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THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
NEW YORK • BOSTON • CHICAGO
-ATLANTA ■ SAN FRANCISCO
MACMILLAN & CO., Limited
LONDON • BOMBAY ■ CALCUTTA
THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, Ltd.
CLARA E. LAUGHLIN
AUTHOR OF " FELICITY," " EVERYBODY 'S LONESOME, 11 " THE
EVOLUTION OF A GIRL^ IDEAL, 11 ETC., ETC.
" Problem ? " said Liza Allen. " Shucks ! Folks
ain't no problem if you really know 'em — they're
• » *
» » • •
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
All rights reserved
S. S. McCLURE COMPANY,
1907, 1908, 1910.
AINSLIE'S MAGAZINE, 1909.
By THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.
Set up and electrotyped. Published October, 1910.
J. 8. Cushing Co. — Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.
THE RADIANT MEMORY OF
ELIZABETH B. BROWNELL
On her way over from the Juvenile Court
Building, on Ewing Street east of Halsted, Beth
Tully stopped at the arched entrance to Hull
House quadrangle and looked in ; then, drawn
by a beauty which never failed to thrill her, she
passed into the court and stood gazing about
her. Little Beth, who with all her appealing
femininity had certain boyish graces and sundry
boyish gifts, could have thrown a stone through
that archway and hit a clattering wagon or clang-
ing car passing on Halsted Street ; yet one felt
many miles aloof from Halsted Street in this
lovely spot suggestive of some ancient close or
cloister from the far world overseas. The gray
stone terrace outside the residents' dining-hall
was as grateful to beauty-starved senses as a
bit of Italy ; and everything in the quadrangle
was full of peace.
Beth thought wistfully, for a moment, of that
dining-hall with its beautiful, restful dimensions,
its peculiarly lovely paper of cool, pale gray, its
rich, dark woodwork and furniture, its bright
2 JUST FOLKS
spots of shining copper and brass, its great open
fireplace and huge chimney. She had dined
at those long tables of mahogany whereat the
residents sat and where there were always guests,
famous and otherwise ; and she had delighted
in the beauty of the surroundings, and in the
clever conversation she heard on a hundred sub-
jects close to her heart. It was like the refec-
tory of some ancient hospice, that dining-hall :
there gathered the brotherhood consecrate to
the succor of perishing mankind ; there they ate
and drank and talked of the world outside ;
there they entertained the travelling brother
from other hospice or monastery ; thence they
emerged, on call from without or inner urging,
to minister to the needy round about ; and
thither they returned from ministering, to sit
again around the shining tables of the refectory,
while good cheer passed and passed again, and
the ruddy firelight played on burnished copper
Beth looked up at the apartments which line
three sides of this court, and swift mental pic-
tures came to her of the comfort, the refinement,
the charm that was in this apartment and in that,
and that. Residents who were able to take
long leases had had a hand in the designing of
the apartment they were to occupy; and even
where choice had not gone so far as this, delight-
ful individuality was expressed and perfect
JUST FOLKS 3
adaptation of surroundings to needs was attained
in the furnishings. Of course, Beth reminded
herself, she could never have afforded an apart-
ment, if she had come to Hull House. Suppos-
ing she had applied for admission as a resident
and had been accepted, she could only have been
of those who have a single room in the quarter
for women ; not hers, by any chance, an ingle-
nook in a book-lined room whose dormer win-
dows overlooked the peace-inspiring close ; not
hers the pleasure of receiving charming friends
in a long living-room rich in artistic trophies
from a dozen lands ; not hers the girlish fun of a
perfectly appointed kitchenette whereat to con-
coct toothsome things not on the bill of fare in
the great dining-hall ; not hers the luxury of
lying down to sleep, nights, in a quaintly pretty
chamber, and rising to step into a bathroom all
chastely white with marble and with porcelain.
A salary of #75 a month is never adequate to
things like this, especially when one must put
by a little in case of accident or illness, and
" another little" to send a bit of luxury home
now and then ; and most especially when one's
work is such that never a day passes in which
there's no urgent tugging at one's heartstrings
— so urgent that it's not always possible to keep
one's purse-strings tied.
But more than compulsory economy made
little Beth decide Hull House was not for her.
4 JUST FOLKS
She was a probation officer of the Juvenile
Court, this tiny sprite of a fair-haired girl with
her direct, earnest ways and the sublime sense of
humor which, her dear father had been wont
to say, "threatened to make her great." And
she had reasoned out for herself that not at Hull
House, where those far cleverer than she discussed
the poor as a theorem or worked with the poor
as a class, in a large, systematic way, could she
come to such knowledge of the poor as she sought.
She meant to keep in touch with the splendid
institution ; to avail herself of many of its privi-
leges besides the coffee house, where she would
probably take most of her meals ; to use its
benefits freely, not only for herself, but for the
boys and girls committed by the court to her care.
But she knew the attitude of the Nineteenth
Ward toward what it regarded as the professional
benevolence of the Settlement ; and she felt
that the air of professionalism with which her
calling surrounded her — the children called
her "de p'leece lady" — was more than sufficient
barrier between her and the human nature of her
charges. So she was determined to level it as
much as she could by following out a plan of her
She had not said a great deal about that plan
in her letters home ; "the little mother" would
never have understood, and would have worried
herself sick. She had small enough idea at best,
JUST FOLKS 5
that little mother, of what her Beth did as a pro-
bation officer. Beth wrote about the boys com-
ing to report to her, and the little mother thought
of Beth as sitting in judicial state, somewhere,
"like her dear father" — Beth's father had been
a judge — and the only worry that harassed
the mother's heart was lest some of the boys
come from infected homes and Beth might "catch
something." What she would have thought
if she had known how Beth went about those
homes, Beth did not dare to imagine. And
what she would have suffered if she had known
Beth was planning to live in one of them, was
best kept out of mind. For there was opposition
enough to encounter in Hart Ferris, who was
determined to marry Beth, some day when his
present job as a reporter had been succeeded by
an editorship and his salary had increased in pro-
portion ; and whom Beth meant probably to
marry some day when her intense interest in other
people's homes and lives and loves had waned
sufficiently to permit her to care exclusively, for
a while at least, about a home and life and love of
her own. It wasn't that she loved Hart less,
but that she loved humanity in the aggregate
more. And Hart Ferris was accepting, since he
must, this attitude and biding his time with no
more patience than a fair masculine allowance.
But he never neglected any possible opportunity
to protest, and with all his might and all his
6 JUST FOLKS
power he had opposed Beth's plan to live in the
"It's bad enough to have you fussing around
the slums all day, without having you eat and
sleep there too," he had cried, angrily.
Little Beth, who had known he would say just
exactly this, opened her blue eyes wide as if in
" Why, Hart Ferris ! It was you who first took
me to the Juvenile Court and interested me in
probation officers ; you who talked to me so
glowingly about the system and what it was doing
for the children, that I could never get the dream
of sharing in it out my mind. You talked then
as if you admired the work ! "
"So I do now — for other girls!" he had
answered. Whereupon Beth had called him a
"primitive male person" and endeavored to
show him his startling likeness to a "cave man."
She was in no wise deterred by his opposition,
but she was not one of those martyr souls whose
happiness increases as her way grows hard ; so
she said little more to him about her intentions,
and nothing at all to any one else. But here she
was, after Court, on a sunny afternoon in March
looking for a place to live.
In none of the homes where her work had called
her could she think of asking either for a room
or for direction to some one with a room to rent.
So she was trying, first of all possible ways, the
JUST FOLKS 7
way of looking for the least objectionable streets
and the decentest houses on those streets, hoping
in the windows of some of those houses to see
the sign, Rooms for Rent.
This afternoon as she left the Hull House
close, and walked west (she knew of no place
east of Halsted that was at all possible) she
found herself — without any particular inten-
tion or design of which she was conscious — try-
ing Maxwell Street ; perhaps the near proximity
of the police station gave her a sense of protection,
as if no really desperate-intentioned folk would
live close beneath its shadow. At any rate,
she steered her course through the hordes of
children playing on the sidewalks, as resolutely
as if she knew where she was going. And
presently her searching eye caught sight of the
desired sign on the door of a decent-looking, three-
story house whose ground floor was occupied by
a grocery and, behind the store, the dwelling
quarters of the grocer, Monahan. Close be-
side the grocery, whose stock seemed so to over-
run the sidewalk that the store was only a for-
mality, was the door bearing the sign, beneath
which was scrawled in pencil : 3 floor front.
Another sign on the door said : Fashionable
Dressmaking. Liza Allen. 3 floor front ; and
below it was tacked — just out of reach of
childish fingers unless the children climbed to
get it — a colored fashion plate from a popular-
8 JUST FOLKS
priced magazine. The plate showed a lady of ex-
traordinary attenuation, semi-attired in an Em-
pire evening gown of pink. Beth looked from it
to the women in the street ; most of them were
Jewish, and shapeless with fat, and the relation
of their figures to that of the lady in the plate,
of their black wigs to the lady's elaborate blonde
coiffure, of their wrappers and sacks to her Em-
pire attire, appealed irresistibly to Beth's sense
of humor. She wanted to see how Liza Allen
looked, and how she regarded her "fashionable
dressmaking," and who patronized her in this
community. So she opened the door and stood
for a moment in the little pocket-size hallway
before starting up the straight, steep, dark stairs.
The house was of a familiar type, two tenants
on each floor and four rooms constituting each
tenement. The kitchens were in the middle of
the house and off each kitchen was a tiny bed-
room. The "front room" of the rear dwellers
overlooked the back yard, the alley, and the
backs of houses on the next street ; and off it
was a small bedroom. The front room of the
other tenants on each floor was over the grocery
and overlooked Maxwell Street ; and off it was
a small bedroom. Beth had come to know this
arrangement well; and the number of doors
which confronted her in these dark hallways
and bore testimony to the wisdom of the archi-
tect in the ways of sub-letting, never "fazed" her.
JUST FOLKS 9
She climbed the second stairway now, feeling
her way rather than seeing it and, not without
some pride in her growing sense of discrimination,
knocked, not on the kitchen but on the front
room door of Liza Allen's apartment.
The] whir of the sewing-machine stopped for
a moment, and a woman's voice called, "Come
in!" Beth opened the door. An old woman,
with snow-white hair parted in the middle and
"crimped," pushed her steel-rimmed spectacles
up on her forehead and regarded Beth sociably.
" 'Scuse me fer not gettin' up," she said,
"but it's such a bother droppin' things an' then
havin' t' hunt 'em all over when you set down
"I know," Beth answered ; "your thimble and
your needle and your scissors and your work —
seems as if they were bewitched, sometimes,
doesn't it ? And how mad it makes you to drop
them all for nothing !"
Liza nodded appreciatively ; evidently this
young woman was a person of understanding.
"Beats all!" she confided, "what some folks'll
call a busy woman from her work fer. But of
course fer a customer — "
"I'm not a customer," Beth interposed. She
had noted the wrapper of cheap calico Liza Allen
was making, but she let no glint of her amuse-
ment escape her. "I'm looking for a room."
"Well now !" said Liza, "you set down an' I'll
io JUST FOLKS
tell you 'bout mine. You're mighty fortunate
to come along right now ; it ain't been vacant
but a few days, and it always gits snapped up
quick after I put the sign out."
And such was the contagion of Liza's pride
that Beth, even before she had seen the room
with its washstand "chiny," its stiffly starched
Nottingham curtains, and its two pictures — " A
Yard of Pansies" and " Alone," issued by a Sun-
day paper as colored supplements and cheaply
framed by a neighborhood emporium as premi-
ums — was grateful for the happy chance which
brought her here so opportunely.
TJie room, when shown, might have seemed to
some scarcely worthy Liza's complacency. But
by the time Beth saw it, she was so captivated
by Liza herself that she was determined to have
the room ; nor was weakened in her determina-
tion when the lumpy little mattress on the single
iron bed showed itself to be thinner than she had
ever supposed a mattress could be, and the room
was discovered to be as guiltless of closet or of
bureau as of heat or other light than that of
a small glass lamp.
Nevertheless, she hastened to pay her " dollar
down, against the rent " — which was two dollars
a week — and to make her arrangements about
"I ain't never let to no woman before," said
Liza Allen — and Beth's heart sank lest Liza be
JUST FOLKS ii
repentant of her bargain — "fer they're always
mussin' 'round and interferin' with yer business.
But I guess you'll be all right — "
"I'll eat my meals at Hull House," Beth has-
tened to plead in her own extenuation, " and send
all my washing out."
"Oh, pshaw ! no you won't neither," Liza inter-
posed. "You're welcome t' cook yer meals on my
stove, an' it won't be any extry expense t' you.
The fire's got t' be there, an' it might's well serve
two. Goodness, no ! don't thank me. What's
the use o' livin' if you can't do that much fer a
fella- woman ?"
After she left Liza Allen's, Beth reflected, with
amusement at her own expense, how she had sup-
posed her quest for a room in that neighbor-
hood would excite curious interest ; how she
would be questioned as to her motives ; and
what a discreet little story she would have to tell.
But while Liza Allen seemed to have the live-
liest interest in her new tenant's future as in-
sured by that "A I room," she showed no interest
at all in her past or how or why she came there.
The condescension which Beth had felt, though
she meant valiantly to conceal it, had transferred
itself to Liza ; and it was with a feeling of "get-
ting in," not one of "coming in," that Beth
entered the Ghetto as a resident.
She moved next day. It was a simple moving
— just a steamer trunk, which would fit under
12 JUST FOLKS
the bed, and a small valise. In the trunk
were a few girlish knickknacks with which Beth
hoped ultimately to make her new little room
seem more truly her own place. But she knew
she would have to be tactful about introducing
these into what Liza considered a chamber
already sufficiently elegant for any mortal use.
Liza made dresses for a dollar ; wrappers for
fifty cents. And she had to sew without ceas-
ing, it seemed. Beth wondered a little, because
Liza had told her the rent of the four rooms was
ten dollars a month, and the income from the
front bedroom was nearly nine. Still, it doubt-
less took a great deal of sewing at those modest
prices to buy coal and kerosene and the bit of
food a lonely old body would eat. On that
point, however, as on many others, she was
destined soon to be enlightened.
It was dusk when she had her few things un-
packed, and she was tired. She had been up
late the night before, packing ; and afterwards
she had, in her excitement, slept but fitfully.
Then there was the day's work, and the move into
new quarters. She felt little enough like going
over to Hull House restaurant for her supper.
Liza was still sewing, by the light of a lamp
set on her machine.
"I believe I'll go out and buy a bit of some-
thing," Beth said to her. "Can I get anything
for you ?"
JUST FOLKS 13
Liza gave her order. When Beth got back,
Liza was still bent over her work ; so Beth cooked
both suppers. And after supper she "cleared
up." Then, strangely without any surprise to
herself, she began threading needles for Liza
while that indefatigable woman strained her poor
old eyes to do "finishing" by the feeble lamp-
Then, quite naturally, the story of Liza's
industry came out. Without lifting her head
from the steady stitch, stitch, she told about
her debt and — without meaning to — about
"No, I ain't never been married," she said.
Beth had not asked her ; the subject was of her
own introduction. "But I was mighty near it
once ; and goodness knows I always had beaus
a-plenty ! But there was Joe — my brother.
He was that gifted, you wouldn't believe ! but
seems like somehow he couldn't never git on.
The others married off, an' bimeby there was only
Joe an' me left in the old home, back in Ohio,
an' I was actually gittin' ready at last to marry
Adam Spear that I'd kep' comp'ny with for
thirteen years. The weddin' day was set an'
the weddin' clo's was made — didn't seem, when
I was sewin' on 'em, that it could be true they
was mine an' not some other bride's like they'd
always been before — when we found that Joe
had got hisself into a peck o' trouble 'bout some
14 JUST FOLKS
money he'd borrowed, signin' somethin' ; an'
't seems," Liza went on without reproachfulness,
"like he'd kind o' signed my name too. An'
'stid o' leavin' Joe all hunky-dory on his own
little place an' him payin' me off fer my share
like we'd laid out he would, so's Adam an' me
could git a good start, there wasn't nothin' fer
him ner me ! Course I couldn't leave Joe like
that — him never bein' one t^o take responsibil-
ity fer himself. An' Adam got put out with me
an' said if I cared so much more fer Joe I could
have him good an' plenty. So Adam he sold out
his little business — he was a carpenter — and
went away. No, I never see him again. An'
Joe an' me, we had pretty hard sleddin' there
fer a while, till bimeby Joe got a notion that we'd
never git along there and ought to come here t'
Chicago where a man that was gifted could git
some notice took of him. So we come. Land !
that was in '70. We took what the place'd
bring, sellin' it quick like that — Joe alius
was one to do a thing quick when he got the
notion — an' after we'd paid off the rest o' the
debt we come here an' bought a little store where
we sold newspapers and tobacco and stationery.
An' — beats all! — if the Big Fire didn't come
along 'fore we was hardly settled, an' wipe us
clean off the map. After that, Joe he got dis-
couraged an' seemed like he never could git
started agin. An' then he — you know how 'tis
JUST FOLKS 15
with men when they get that way — he got the
failin', an' first thing I know he got took to the
County one night with both his poor legs cut off
by a train. After that it was all off with him. I
got him some peg-legs — they was real expensive,
too — but he never took to 'em. So he'd jest
set here — poor Joe would — an' watch me sew,
an' worry for fear he wouldn't be buried like a
gentleman. 'Now don't you goon like that,' I'd
tell him ; 'am I the one to see you buried cheap ?
you that have always had such high ambitions !'
An' then he'd cheer up an' tell me how he wanted
things done — at the last, you know. I never
see a man so partikler about his fun'ral as Joe
was. But he had to wait a long time for it,
poor fella ! Seventeen years he set an' thought
about it, afore it come to pass. An' the last
couple o' years he was awful ailin' — had the
doctor every week, almost, an' more med'cine
than'd kill a camel, you'd think. But when he
come to go he seemed real pleased, thinkin'
about his fun'ral. 'Tuberoses, Lizy' he'd say.
'You remember ? An' white pinks — in a pilla —
with "Brother" on it — in everlastin's.' An'
the las' day — we could be pretty sure it was the
last, he was failin' so rapid — he'd keep mur-
murin' 'bout the everlastin's, an' finally he sighed,
an' I says, 'What is it, Joe ?' an' he says, awful
wishful, ' 'f I could on'y see 'em ! ' — meanin'
the flowers. An' thinks I, 'Why not ?' an' puts
16 JUST FOLKS
on my shawl an' goes over t' Blue Island an' had
the pilla made."
Beth almost gasped.
"An' you never see any one so pleased," Liza
went on, lifting a corner of her apron to wipe
her eyes. "O' course the pilla was some faded
by the fun'ral time, but I figgered there wasn't
no one there that cared so much about it as Joe
There was sympathetic silence for a moment.
Then : "It was as handsome a fun'ral, though,
as I ever lay eyes on. Poor Joe ! he deserved it.
You wouldn't believe, jes' knowin' me, what a
gifted man he was. But, My Country ! 'tain't
all paid off yet — that fun'ral !"
There was no self-pity in this last admission
— indeed no ! rather was it full of pride ; and the
needle, which had been faltering a little, moved
in and out more briskly, as if spurred by the con-
sciousness that it was able to afford Liza so hand-
some a debt.
Beth had often deplored the extravagant
funerals of the poor, but it dawned upon her as
Liza talked that there may be more than one
standard of economy, more than one rule to
determine what is worth while.
Time was — and that only a very little while
ago — when she would have felt impelled to help
lift the weight of debt from Liza's shoulders, to
try to atone to her for all she had foregone. But
JUST FOLKS 17
tonight ! Even after this so brief experience of
the changed point of view that had been her
desire in coming to live in the Ghetto, she was
measuring the contentment of Liza's toilsome
days against the state of other women immeas-
urably less uplifted by having met a great de-
mand in a great way. And as she crept into her
little bed, she forgot how thin the mattress was,
in her exultant gratitude for having been led to
In the morning, Liza brought the steaming tea-
kettle to Beth's room tp fill her "chiny" wash-
bowl with hot water.
"Land sakes, child !" she exclaimed when she
saw Beth's little nightie, low-necked and short
of sleeve; "is that all you got to cover your
poor little bones with at night ?"
Beth tried to explain how hot was the steam-
heated bedroom she had occupied in the board-
ing-house. But Liza was sceptical. "Flannel-
ette's the thing," she declared. "Goodness !
you'll be tied in a knot with rheumatiz, time
And, even though spring was coming on, Beth
felt that she would better get something more
suited to Liza's chill little front room ; for in
March and April and even in May, there are
many raw nights in Chicago.
Also, at breakfast, she was reminded of the tea-
pot which she had decided, the night before, she
must purchase. Liza liked black tea and she
liked it "good an' strong." Beth cared only for
the mildest infusion of uncolored Japan. So she
said she must get herself a tiny tea-pot and a
little bit of tea.
JUST FOLKS 19
There were several other things she needed,
too. So after breakfast she went over to Halsted
and Fourteenth streets to what was self-styled
There was some consternation in the "empo-
rium" when she asked to have these things de-
livered at Liza Allen's. • Customers of the em-
porium furnished their own delivery service
nor would have consented otherwise ; when one
paid one's money out for a thing, one wished
immediate possession of it, not only because
things were seldom bought until long after they
had begun to be needed, but because one of
the proudest things about shopping was to go
home so bundle-laden that the ever-ready atten-
tion of the neighborhood should be attracted,
even to the possibility of accumulating a little
"following" who would accompany one home
to see the parcels unwrapped and hear the
tale of prices.
Beth carried her purchases back to Liza Allen's
and bestowed them in her room, where she had
thought to leave them still in their wrappings
until she came home after her day's work. But
Liza had begun to "help her unwrop" almost
before she had time to lay the bundles down, and
her interest in the disclosures and what Beth
had "give for" them was so keen and so happy
that again Beth yielded. She was beginning
to apprehend that in a life where excitements
20 JUST FOLKS
are not many one must make the most of every
little interest, and that, by the wonderful law of
equivalence which operates everywhere, this eager-
ness to be interested in small things cultivated a
spirit whose potentiality for pleasure was in
excess of that usually found where excitements
are big and diversions many.
"Spent a good deal, didn't yeh ?" Liza ques-
tioned, a little anxiously. But Beth assured her
that she needed these things and made her feel
that they were, in a way, an effort to do
honor to the "best rentin' room in the neigh-
That evening Hart Ferris called. When Beth
had told him of her new home, the evening she
was packing up to go to it, Hart heard her glumly.
"Every time I go to see you, after this, have
I got to call on Liza Allen, too ?" he asked.
Beth's eyes twinkled. "There's the kitchen
— " she began suggestively.
Ferris made a gesture of disgust.
"It's all the visiting place the girls over there
have," Beth went on soberly, " and few of them
have as c retired' a kitchen as Liza's. Maybe I
can get closer to the Juvenile Court girls, when
I live closer to their meagre opportunities."
The wistful look crept into her face as she spoke,
and Ferris found himself doing as he always did
when Beth looked that way : praying in his
heart "God bless her!" There was something
JUST FOLKS 21
in him that rebelled against many of Beth's
undertakings, but it was a superficial some-
thing ; and deep down beneath it was another
something which loved her the more intensely
for meeting his protests with unflinching purpose.
On the evening of his first call at Maxwell
Street, Ferris found Beth threading needles for
Liza Allen, while that tireless woman worked at
"Seems, a'ready, 's if she'd been here always,"
Liza said to Ferris when she had welcomed him
and told him how Beth "fit in."
When Ferris said something about feeling like
an idler in that busy atmosphere, Liza took him
at his word and indulgently gave him a finished
wrapper, and told him to "take out the bastin's."
Ferris shot a quick look at Beth to see if there
was laughter in her eyes. But there wasn't ;
the look he caught before the blue eyes drooped
again to their needle-threading was a look which
made him take the wrapper and apply himself to
the "bastin's" as if that were the inevitable
thing for him to be doing.
"Seems real nice to have a man around again,"
said Liza, gratefully. "I ain't had much mas-
c'line society sence Joe died. And I miss it, I
tell you. Most women's talk is awful tame to me.
I ain't never been one t' go along takin' no inter-
est in anythin' but vittles an' clo's, like most
women," she went on. "I like t' hear big
22 JUST FOLKS
talk. Why ! th' other day the Presbyterian
preacher came here t' call on me. I guess he's
a well-meanin' young fella, but land ! he bored
me stiff. He told me 'bout the fine currant jell
his mother used t' make, and how handy his wife
was to trim her own hats. I didn't say nothin',
not wantin' t' hurt his feelin's. But if he'd
only have ast me what I thought o' the way
things is goin' with the gov'ment, I could have
enjoyed seein' him. I suppose that young man
kin read seven furrin tongues — dead languidges
I've heard 'em called — but he ain't got no
more sense o' live human bein's than a bleatin'
So Ferris, taking his cue from the preacher's
failure, talked to Liza of the largest topics he
knew, or knew about ; and if at any time during
the call he thought wistfully of the kitchen, or
wished Liza would go to bed, he concealed the
wistfulness with supreme gallantry.
Beth accompanied him out into the dark hall
when he had said good night to Liza.
"Well — ?" she said.
He knew what she meant. "Well ?" he echoed,
"Are your worst fears confirmed ?" she insisted.
"My worst fears are not confirmed," he ad-
"Do you begin to see why I wanted to come ?"
"I begin to see why you wanted to come."
JUST FOLKS 23
That was a triumph Beth had not dared to
expect so soon.
Beth was curious about her neighbors, but
Liza Allen had few callers ; she did not even
encourage the other women of the house to sit and
talk to her as she sewed. They "flustered" her,
she said, and she could not afford to be flustered ;
she was happier sitting by herself and thinking
of Joe's elegant funeral as she sewed and sewed
to pay for it. And sew she must right steadily,
for longer and longer hours each year as her
fumbling fingers grew less and less expert and
trade had to be wooed with lower and lower
In an occasional moment of depression Liza
would admit to Beth that she wasn't "up to
all the wrinkles" she saw in her magazine of
styles ; but to her trade she never talked less
authoritatively than a sibyl ; and every month
she hung on her front door downstairs, under the
faded sign which advertised "Fashionable Dress-
making," the gaudiest colored plate from her
magazine, showing the willowiest of French figures
in the trailingest of French evening frocks.
Beth used to wonder a good deal about the
women who pored so intently over Liza's style
book, lingering — some delightedly, some resent-
fully — over the "dressiest" pictures, and then
agreeing with Liza that they'd "best have
24 JUST FOLKS
a good basque; 'twon't go out o' style so
But none of these customers yielded Beth
any friendship until an eventful Saturday when
she had been with Liza for nearly two weeks.
On that day, about ten in the morning, Liza
opened her door in response to a faint knock and
admitted an elfish person almost completely en-
veloped in a large black shawl. The hall was so
black and the shawl was so black that when
Liza first peered into the blackness all she could
see was a very small white face and the shining
of two very large dark eyes.
"Be you the drissmaker?" asked the elf.
"I be," said Liza, still peering.
"How much d'ye charge fer my size ?"
"Lan' sakes, I don't know! Come in an*
leave me look at you."
The elf stepped inside and looked about her
awesomely. Then from the recesses of the
shrouding shawl she produced a bundle wrapped
in a pink "sporting sheet," and disclosed a piece
of dark red dress goods which Liza called " me-
rino," and was promptly corrected by the elf.
"'Tis i7mrietta-cloth," she said.
"Sure," agreed Liza, handling it with critical
fingers. "I hadn't felt of it when I said merino."
The elf said her name was Midget Casey, that
she lived "to Hinry Street, number twinty-wan,"
and that the goods "was give" her by "a lady
JUST FOLKS 25
upstairs" whose baby she had tended and whose
errands she had run while the lady was sick.
" She was goin' t' git it in a waist hersilf," the
explanation continued, "but she give it to me if
I would help her ; an' I. did." Since then —
that was a month ago — Midget had been
hoarding the goods and working "t' git it made
stylish." She had scorn, it seemed, of her ma's
dressmaking as having no style. This Midget
attributed to the lack of "patrons" (patterns),
which she was anxious to know if Liza used.
"I want it made Frinch" she announced, "long in
th' waist an' short in th' skirt." She indicated
in the style book what she meant, pointing with
a grimy wee finger. "How much fer th' mak-
in' ?" she asked, and turned up to Liza such
wishful big eyes that Liza checked the "Fifty
cents " which rose to her lips, and asked instead,
"How much you got?" Midget had thirty-
five cents, all in nickels. "I made 'em lightin'
fires fer th' Sheenies," she said. Jewish law
forbids the lighting of fires on Saturday mornings,
and a nickel is the price for which a Gentile
child is hired to assume the penalty of this
sacrilege. " If thim ain't enough," urged Midget,
to whom the seven nickels looked enough for
anything, "could youse do th' rist on me word ? "
Liza thought they would be enough and was re-
turning them to Midget until payment should be
earned, but Midget demurred. "You kape
26 JUST FOLKS
thim," she said shrewdly, "thin I know wheer
they are." There was a note of relief in her voice,
as if of satisfaction to know that all the tempta-
tion to divert that money she had suffered for
weeks was over now. Beth felt it, and her im-
mediate impulse was to return the hoard to
Midget and herself pay Liza for the making of
the dress. But something made her hestitate.
"I'll help you with it," she said to Liza when
Midget was gone; "you oughtn't to take your
time for so little pay." Already, the obligations
of Joe's funeral were beginning to lie heavily on
"The pay's enough," Liza rejoined delibera-
tively, "and if it wa'n't, it's little I git doin'
fer a child."
"That thirty-five cents is a big pile of money
to her," Beth suggested. "I thought I might
manage to make the dress so she could keep the
"You let her pay fer her dress," Liza com-
manded. "Folks git most pleasure out o' what
costs 'em most." And in the face of such proof
as Liza herself, Beth could not deny this.
But the next time she went out she instituted
search for 'Hinry" Street and located "twinty-
wan, " which was a substantial brick house of
three stories and what the neighborhood calls a
basement, but the tenement-house laws call a
cellar because it is two-thirds or more under the
JUST FOLKS 27
street level. The Caseys lived in the rear cellar,
Beth learned of a child in the street, and the
approach thereto was down a steep flight of
perilously rickety wooden steps and along a
narrow plank walk to a side door, and then into
a small black entryway with doors opening into
the Caseys' "front room" and into the kitchen
of the front flat, and with steeply winding stairs
disappearing into the blackness above. Beth
rapped at the rear door, and after a few moments'
delay it was opened by a woman with a child in
"Mrs. Casey?" asked Beth.
"Sure," was the response; "will ye come
Beth followed the woman through the "front
room," which was unfurnished and chill, into the
kitchen, which was stifling with heat and damp
and that peculiar acrid odor — compounded of
mustiness and personal uncleanness and stale
odors of strong cooking — which every visitor
to the homes of the poor knows as "the poverty
Fire raged to the brim of the big, heavily
nickeled cook stove which the Caseys were
buying by what they optimistically called "aisy
payments," and the rest of the steaming room
seemed full of dripping clothes. Mary Casey
had been washing, and when her wash was hung
on the lines overhead (it was a wet day) she had
28 JUST FOLKS
dumped the tubful of suds on her kitchen floor
and swept the water out the back door.
On the black, soppy floor sat a weird, wizened
little boy who glowered at Beth unsociably.
"Git up, Dewey," his mother commanded,
"an' have some manners about ye."
The baby in her mother's arms was a pretty
little girl of two, maybe, evidently "backward,"
but attractive in spite of one sore eye.
Beth explained that she lodged at the dress-
maker's — thanking her stars that for once she
did not have to introduce herself to a new house-
hold as "de p'leece lady" — and said she had
come to ask Midget something about the making
of her dress.
Midget's mother was guiltless of knowledge
that Midget was getting a dress made, or even
that she had "the makin's." Seeing which,
Beth began to hedge uncomfortably, sorry she
had betrayed the child. But in a moment she
became aware that Mary Casey was thoroughly
elated at the news.
"Well, now, ain't that smart of 'er?" she
queried delightedly. "Her that have niver had
a new dress in her life, that I kin raymimber.
Rid, did ye say ? It'll become 'er fine, won't it ?
An' a rale drissmaker t' make it ! Did ye iver?"
The mother was amused as well as proud.
As she talked, Beth had been studying her
interestedly, conscious of a strong drawing toward
JUST FOLKS 29
the thin Irish woman with her wisps of faded
hair screwed back tightly from her prominent
forehead ; her scarcity of teeth ; her fine,
flashing eyes ; and her gnarled hands — hid-
eously parboiled just now — on the wedding
finger of which hung loosely a thin gold band.
There was something reminiscent about Mrs.
Casey's voice, and about the humor in her dark
eyes. It bothered Beth ; and then, in a flash,
the connecting link of memory was found, and
Beth asked : —
"Mrs. Casey, did you ever know any one by the
name of Tully ?"
"I did that," was the prompt answer. "I
worked out fer 'em just before I was married."
"Then you were Mary Keegan ?"
"And I am little Beth Tully."
"Fer the love of!" cried Mary Casey. And
then followed questions and explanations, the
history, briefly told, of eighteen years.
"Yer not married ?" asked Mary.
"No," Beth answered, and could feel Mary's
frank sympathy; "not yet. And I'm getting
awful old, Mary; I'm twenty-five."
"Ye don' look it," said Mary, handsomely.
Beth loved the graciousness of Mary.
"An' how's yer ma ?" Mary Casey went on.
Beth told her of the breaking up of their home,
after her father's death three years ago ; of the
30 JUST FOLKS
discovery that he had left nothing but life in-
surance which, of course, only the little mother
must touch ; and of her own coming to Chicago
to earn a living.
"An' yer workin' fer yer bit of livin', ye poor
little lamb ?" crooned Mary, tenderly. "What
d'ye do?" Beth told her. "Fer the love of!"
the older woman cried compassionately.
Beth was essentially a sturdy young soul,
and she did not relish being felt sorry for. But
the humor in her that was her genius came to
her aid, and she accepted the situation with
"And you, Mary ?" she said.
"I've had nine," said Mary, proudly, "an'
sivin of 'em's alive."
"And your husband ?"
Mary laughed. "Sure, he's alive, all right."
Involuntarily, Beth looked about her, and
Mary read the look.
"He ain't workin' stiddy," she explained.
"He" was a stone-cutter by trade and, ap-
parently, a loafer by occupation ; this last, how-
ever, was no conscious admission of Mary's.
He was a "foine scolard," she said, and could
"rade an' write jest as aisy" — which she
herself could not do. But he had "th' failin',"
and what with that and with cement taking the
place of stone, the way it was, he had hard
work finding jobs.
JUST FOLKS 31
No, he "didn' have no caard fer no other
kind of trade;" and as for an open shop, where
"caards" were not necessary, he'd starve before
he'd "work wid scabs." And what made it
kind of hard was that various charity organiza-
tions had no sympathy with his predicament,
and refused aid if the visitors came and found
him at home.
Sometimes he did go away in search of indus-
trial conditions better suited to a "man wid
princ'ples," where it is neither too wet nor too
dry, too hot nor too cold to work, and everybody
belongs to the union. With the first soft days of
spring, he almost always heard of some "gran'
job" far afield, and he had — it seemed — a
remarkable facility in getting to these places,
although the facility always failed when it came
to finding the job. It was astonishing, to Mary,
how few opportunities the world had to offer
a man who was a "scolard" and a fierce enemy
In consequence, there was seldom any money
forthcoming from these tours in quest of ideal
employment, but they were a boon to the family
none the less, for then they hadn't the burden of
his "keep." Alas! though, the tours were al-
ways undertaken in pleasant weather when
travelling is easy but charity is inoperative.
With the first biting cold he came back along the
boardwalk, some night at supper time ; and
32 JUST FOLKS
throughout the winter, while the wolf snapped at
the warped ill-fitting door, he sat with his feet
in the oven and kept scrupulous charity from
pulling the wolf away.
All this Beth gathered from Mary's talk.
"And the children?" she said. "They sup-
"Well, mos'ly they do. But 'tis oncertain-
like, Mikey bein' out of a job so much. He's
seventeen, now, but awful thin and not rale
smart in the head."
He had gone to work when he was eleven, Mary
went on to explain — child-labor laws were
less rigorous then — in a wall-paper factory, where
he worked in a steaming room whose temperature
averaged no°. And he had "took th' paint-
p'isnin'." His "stumick hadn't set right" since
then, and Beth gathered from what Mary said
that Mikey was a bit flighty and lacked a sense
of responsibility. Skilled workmen couldn't be
bothered with him for a helper and apprentice.
He had always to do a week's work now here,
now there, for the meagre wage. And when a
rush subsided and any one was "let off," Mikey
was always the first one spared.
Beth was full of sympathy. Maybe . she
could help Mikey — could get some one to take
an interest in him. "What is he working at
now ?" she said.
Mary flushed and hesitated. Then, "I'll
JUST FOLKS 33
tell you, Miss Tully, because I know ye'll under-
stan'. Mos'ly I tell thim that asks, ourMikey's
workin' on th' Sout' Side, though there's thim
aroun' here that know, I'm afraid. He's in that
place they call th' bean house."
"Why, Mary ! What for ?"
Mary stiffened resentfully. She had evi-
dently not understood what Beth meant when
she told her — slurring the "Court" part as
much as possible — that she was a Juvenile
Probation Officer, and she mistook Beth's
sympathetic interest for reproach.
"Fer bein' discour'ged — though that isn'
what they called it in the court."
"I know!" cried little Beth, "I know!"
Then she explained to Mary Casey what her
"Was it — was it you that had 'im sint up ?"
"No, Mary, no ! I've been in this district only
a few weeks. I used to have a district on the
Mikey must have been before the Juvenile
Court and sent to the John Worthy Reform
School just before Beth came into the Nineteenth
Ward district. He had found the cluttered
kitchen intolerable, evenings, and had taken to
going out with some of the neighborhood boys.
Disheartened by many rebuffs, he could see no
future worth hoping for. And the present was
bitter indeed, what with having to give every
34 JUST FOLKS
penny he earned to keep souls and bodies to-
gether at home, and with Pa drinking up part
of those pitifully few pennies and cursing the
stupidity in Mikey which made them so few.
The boys he went with were young rowdies,
believed by the police to be responsible for
sundry acts of lawlessness, such as holding high
carnival of dice-throwing and beer-drinking in a
vacant store without the owner's permission,
and damaging his property in the revel, and at-
tempting to tamper with the locks on freight-
cars, for purposes of petty thieving. The boys
seemed to the Law to be young criminals-in-the-
making and, not knowing any better thing to do
for them, the Law had put them under restraint
All this Beth was able to gather, partly from
what Mary said and largely through her own
knowledge of such situations.
The support of the family, now, was Angela
Ann, who was not quite sixteen but swore she
"was over." She was a bundle wrapper, just
at present, in a West Side "Emporium" where
she got $3.50 a week.
Beth was indignant at "Pa." As an officer
of the Juvenile Court it was a large part of her
business to deal summarily with the delinquent
parents of what the law calls "dependent chil-
dren." She hinted to Mary that Pa might be
brought before the Court and made to work ; but
JUST FOLKS 35
the hint was evidently not approved, so Beth
did not urge it.
No wonder that thirty-five cents had looked
large to Midget ! No wonder she felt relieved
to deposit it beyond recall ! She came in
before Beth left and looked momentarily
startled at the probable betrayal of her secret.
But Mary's beaming pride soon reassured her.
"Girls do be nadin' a pritty thing now'n' agin',"
she told Beth, beaming at Midget the while.
"'Tis more t' them, sometimes, ner what they
kin ate. An' as fer fire, there's none like pride
t' kape ye warm."
Beth took Midget out with her, when she went,
to bring back the "little treat for the children"
she asked Mary if she might not buy "to cele-
brate old times when you used to bake me saucer
pies, and little cakes in the covers of the baking-
That evening she told Liza Allen and Hart
Ferris about the Caseys. She was a little
delicate, at first, about going too searchingly
into details about Pa before Liza, who had herself
suffered so much from a worthless man. But
she need not have been. For Liza soon made
it plain to her that she might inveigh all she
wanted to against idle, selfish men who, instead
of bearing the burdens, made of themselves the
heaviest weight upon their poor families. Liza
was of one mind with her about such men ; and
36 JUST FOLKS
so, it seemed, had the lamented Joe been, too.
For whenever Liza had asked him if he didn't
feel bad to think he'd had to live and die without
raising a family, Joe had always replied with
righteous warmth that he was glad — "not bein'
one to raise a f am'ly unless he could do handsome
by 'em. Joe was that smart himself, he couldn't
never have stood it t' raise children that wa'n't
clever. If he'd of had boys, I bet it'd have been
college fer every one — that was Joe!"
Beth looked at Ferris and Ferris looked at Beth.
"I think," said Beth, when she could trust her-
self to speak, "that the law ought to get after Pa
and put him in jail if he won't work."
"Well, now," Liza answered judicially, hold-
ing up a finished "basque" and surveying it
critically, her head on one side, "that ain't
so durned easy t' say. I guess they can't
nobody decide when other folks has stood their
troubles long enough. If them that's bearing
'em hollers, I guess mebbe it's all right t' run in
an' help 'em — though that don't always foller
neither — but until they ask fer the law, I can't
see but what the law has got t' leave 'em work
out their own salvation — in fear an' tremblin'."
Every day that Beth lived in Maxwell Street
she became more and more aware of the amazing
difference it was making in her work and in her,
to live close to the daily problems of a few typi-
cal human beings. She began to think with
scorn of the profitless intercourse of the genteel
boarding-house she had left and to wonder if
the people she had met there were actually as
colorless, as bloodless, as apart from real life
and its issues as they seemed, or whether there
was something in the atmosphere that en-
veloped them as in a fog and made each of them
seem to all his neighbors like a phantom, a shape
stalking through a vague, chaotic dream. Over
here, there was such intense reality in people.
Every one seemed definite, individual. Every-
thing they did seemed to belong to life in such
an integral, essential way.
Just "over Monahan's," for instance, there
was a wonderful little world, sufficient in itself
to keep one interested. Liza knew all about her
neighbors, as a matter of course, but she had
little or no time to "mix with 'em" as she called
it. It was, however, not a gossipy tenement
38 JUST FOLKS
and no one's feelings were hurt by Liza's steady
application to work.
In the rooms back of her lived a very quiet
family of Russian Jews : the father and mother,
the mother's mother, and three children all above
fourteen years. Their name was something
unpronounceable, contracted to Slinsky. The
father was a gentle poetic-looking man, who
might have stood to Sargent for one of the least-
direful Prophets in his great fresco. He was a
dreamer, with none of the commercial sense of
his race. He made a rigidly honest living —
meagre, but always well within the limits of
self-respect amounting to pride — for himself
and his family, by peddling brushes. This
left him free to keep his Saturdays and holydays
for the Lord. He was a gentle but unrelenting
fanatic in his orthodoxy. His wife was a large
woman of a melancholy disposition, inclined to
constant fretfulness. Her mother was little
and shrunken and considered very venerable and
aged, though she was just sixty. She wore the
black wig of the Jewish elderly woman and was
so like thousands of others of her sort in the
Ghetto that Beth used to marvel how their own
kindred could tell "one Grandma from another."
The children were : Abe, a tall, handsome
youth of sixteen, finishing his third year at the
High School ; Sarah, his younger sister, pretty
and vivacious and loving gayety ; and Dinah,
JUST FOLKS 39
the eldest of the children, a poor, squat little
dwarf with a fine large thoughtful face set on a
body no bigger than a child of six should have.
Dinah was to graduate from the High School this
June, and Liza had "heard tell" that one of
Dinah's classmates, who was her particular friend,
was a blind girl. All this made Beth intensely
anxious to know the Slinksys, but they were
exceedingly reserved, and the passionate drama
of their lives unfolded to her almost not at all
for many weeks.
Below the Slinskys lived the family of Joe
Gooch, a teamster. He was a very giant in
stature, a hard worker, a tender husband and
father, a thoroughly nice, good man of the sort
frequently developed by a pretty, incompetent
wife. Mamie Gooch had been a "saleslady,"
and five years of married life had made, appar-
ently, so little impress on her that one felt she
could at any moment have stepped out of her
untidy kitchen, bunched out her pompadour to a
little more monstrous proportions, exchanged her
wrapper for a black dress, and gone back to a
place behind a counter, without carrying with her
one sobering, maturing trace of her wifehood and
In front of the Gooches and below Liza lived
Hannah Wexsmith, a little Irish widow who
always made Beth think of Dickens and regret
that the great romancer could not have added
4 o JUST FOLKS
Hannah to his gallery of immortals. It took
Beth a considerable time to learn to know
Hannah, so we may not be precipitate here.
Superficially, the main facts about Hannah were
that she had lived in those rooms for eighteen
years, since before the incursion of the Jews,
and before the death of her husband, who was a
janitor's assistant in a downtown office building
and was killed by a fall from a high window he
was cleaning. Hannah was childless, which, so
far as outlook went, meant not only that she had
no one besides herself to consider in her present,
but no one to whom she could look for con-
sideration in her future. The rent of her
rooms was #10 a month when she first took
them, #12 later on and now. She sublet her
two front rooms ; when they were continu-
ously tenanted and the rent was not "behind-
hand," the revenue from them was $18 a month.
And on the difference between her fixed and un-
postponable obligation to the landlord, and her
lodgers' variable and much-deferred obligations
to her, she managed to live, somehow, and to keep
aloof from the smallest evidence of poverty.
The house next on the west was three stories high
and very close. Upstairs, Liza's kitchen and the
Slinskys' got some light filtering down from the
zenith, but Hannah's kitchen and Mamie Gooch's
were as "dark as pockets." Mamie had her
"front" room, overlooking the yard, to live in.
JUST FOLKS 41
But Hannah lived in her tomblike kitchen and a
stifling closet, miscalled a room, where her cot-
bed stood. It would never have entered her
head to invade, for longer than the time neces-
sary to "do them up," those front rooms, sacred
to the lodgers.
At the head of the first flight of stairs was a wall
bracket containing a small glass lamp. The halls
were as black at noon as at midnight, but custom
decreed that the lamp should be lighted by the
tenant of the second floor front rooms, each evening
at six, and that the feeble beacon should glimmer
until it expired, somewhere in those wee, small
hours when the last stumbling, home-coming step
had, supposedly, reached the door of its desti-
nation. Hannah Wexsmith had been the keeper
of the light for eighteen years and had never once
failed in her duty. No guardian of a great coast
beacon ever held his office more responsibly.
It was in the discharge of this duty that she
used to be in the hall sometimes when Beth was
coming home at night, and there they had their
first intercourse, which was no more than what
Hannah called "biddin' the time o' day." Later,
when the spring evenings grew warm enough,
Hannah would carry a green carpet-covered
hassock down to the street door and sit there for
hours, half-hidden by Monahan's overflow of
cabbages, watching the human comedy in Max-
well Street ; and here Beth would come to sit
42 JUST FOLKS
beside her, sometimes — but of all this, and of
the others, more anon.
The Caseys yielded her an intimate friendship
much more readily than did anybody else but
Liza Allen. Partly this was because of her old-
time connection with Mary, and partly it was be-
cause the Caseys were the Caseys — so rich in
human nature that every visit to them, every
call from them, was an illumination in the ways
Beth was especially concerned to do something
with or to Pa. But one reason why it was so
difficult to do anything drastic regarding Casey
was that he was always on the very eve of "gittin'
a gran' job." That he hardly ever got any of
these jobs, or that when he did get one, he failed
to keep it, did not seem to quench his family's
faith in him. And before Beth was aware of
what was happening, the contagion of this hope-
fulness had spread to her. She had never yet
seen Pa ; but as day after day she went to see
Mary and found her in need of everything, but
splendidly buoyed up by the assurance that
"yistiddy he was after hearin' of a gran' job
that a man tell him of, an' to-day he've gon' t'
see about gittin' it," she, too, was conscious of
an exhilarating expectancy.
She always asked eagerly, next time she went,
if he had got the "gran' job," and was always told
a harrowing tale of how it had been "give out
JUST FOLKS 43
just ten minutes befoore he got there," or how
"the boss was after givin' it to a man he favored."
But she began to feel with the Caseys the ex-
citement of a situation wherein they could not
tell the moment Pa might get a day's work
at four dollars. Why, it had even happened,
several times, that he worked a whole week and
swaggered in an affluence which kept the family
dizzy opening parcels. Beth felt that one ought
not to be "brash" about jailing a man who at
any moment was likely to be worth four dollars a
Almost, Beth told herself, smiling whimsically,
she was beginning to see the advantages — in
this life of ours where expectancy is quite as neces-
sary a staple as sufficiency, if not, indeed, rather
more necessary — of the continued imminence
of a grand job over the steady grind of an
But there were times, too, when she shared
the family reaction — the inevitable "slump"
after too giddy hopefulness. Sometimes this
took the form of deep depression, sometimes of
sharp exasperation. It was during one of these
latter times that Beth ventured to speak again
of the Juvenile Court. Mary was dubious.
"It'd make him awful mad," she hazarded.
Beth thought that was probable. "An' whin
he's riled, he have a pritty bad temper." Mary
was at that moment wearing the family panacea,
44 JUST FOLKS
a brown paper soaked in vinegar, over a bruise
on her right temple ; it was this, indeed, that had
fired Beth to speak. Yes, Beth could believe
that he had a temper, but she wouldn't ask Mary
to make the charges — she would do that herself.
But still Mary wavered.
"Don't you do it," she pleaded — and Beth
was not deceived as to Mary's solicitude and for
whom it was greatest — "for I wouldn't put it
past him t' lay fer you some night whin he got
out — he'd be that mad !"
So the regeneration of Pa by process of law
was kept in abeyance for a while, and Beth
tried to soften the hard lot of the little Caseys
by begging enough to get them shod and clad —
the latter savoring a little of motley, in truth,
but warm and, when Beth could compass it,
bright-hued. For instance, when she learned
the passion of Mollie's soul for red shoes and the
need of Mollie's feet for shoes of any kind, she
decided that red would wear as well as black and
in every other respect would please better, so she
bought red. They pleased ! Mollie slept with
them on for three nights, meeting all remonstrance
with : —
"Agin I take thim off, how do I know I'll iver
see thim anny more ?"
Then Beth intervened and confidence was in-
duced in Mollie. Alas, it was doomed to a vio-
lent shaking very soon.
JUST FOLKS 45
Midget came over to Liza Allen's one afternoon
in a state of woe so far beyond speech that it was
a long time before Liza and Beth could make
out what had happened. At length : —
"We're after bein' robbed!" Midget wailed
between her sobs. And then, little by little,
came the details — such meagre details as there
were. Mollie's red shoes and stockings were
gone, and Midget's red dress was gone, and
other warm, pawnable, whole things of recent
acquisition were gone.
In an instant, Beth's mind framed an accusa-
tion, but she stopped herself just short of de-
"Who," she faltered instead, "who could
have robbed you, Midget ?"
Midget dried her tears momentarily, while the
mystery and delicious excitability of the thing
outweighed the woe of it.
"We dunno," she said, "but my ma have a
lady frien' wid a young gen'leman son that's
a burglar — that's his business — an' we think
mebbe he done it."
Midget was very matter-of-fact about the
young gentleman's business, and mentioned it in
quite the same casual tone she would have em-
ployed had she said he was a plumber or an ice-
man, and she seemed fatalistic about the red
shoes and the red dress, as if — it being the
young gentleman's work in the world to "burgle,"
46 JUST FOLKS
and their small treasures coming in the way of
his work by reason of his ma having been to
call on her ma and seen all the new belongings —
it were futile to combat the inevitable.
Beth let no breath of her suspicion taint the
child, but when Midget was gone she blazed
forth in an anger that fairly startled Liza. Now
she was going to have him arrested, the miserable
cur ! The idea of a lot of people who ought to
know better, standing around "hemming and
hawing" while a cowardly wretch was robbing
his little children. The more she railed, the
madder she got.
"I'm going right over there !" she announced
Liza remonstrated. "He might be to home,"
But Beth only hoped he would be, so she could
tell him what she thought of him.
It was a raw, wet evening, and not many per-
sons were abroad in the bleak, muddy streets as
Beth, having hurried through an early supper
with Liza, started out on her mission of venge-
Henry Street was very dark, and the alleyway
back to the Caseys' door was darker still, but
Beth did not mind darkness. Long since she
had got over the idea that people who are poor
are probably dangerous ; long ago she had
JUST FOLKS 47
learned that Henry Street is many degrees safer
than Michigan Boulevard.
Her knock on the kitchen door — she always
went to the back now and entered as the Caseys
themselves did, direct from the oozy yard —
brought Mary to it, and her first glance within
The kitchen was stifling hot, but Pa sat with
his feet on the opened door of the oven. His
coat was off, his shoes were off; he was * 'down to "
trousers, thick woollen socks, and a heavy woollen
undershirt of a hideous mustard-colored hue.
It was some minutes before he chanced so to
turn his face that the feeble lamplight shone full
on it and Beth got a real idea of how he looked.
The first few minutes of their conversation —
and immediately she had entered and been in-
troduced, Pa assumed the whole burden of her
entertainment — she was able to see him only in
silhouette and to hear his voice, which had a
pleasant low pitch and was full of notes whose
plaintiveness all but disarmed her. He was
telling her of the difficulties of the labor situation,
the hard position he was forced into by the in-
flexibility of his "princ'ples," and his inclination
to believe that "if this here Sociable party was
to git elected, things would be better for the
lab'rin' min." And Mary and the children
listened, spellbound with awe and admiration of
48 JUST FOLKS
When Beth remembered about the theft of the
red shoes she felt somehow unable to refer to it
in the way she had meant to. Instead, she com-
miserated Pa on his loss, and Pa rewarded her
with as fine a flow of vituperation of the "t'ief "
as she could in her moment of greatest indignation
have desired. Almost, as she listened, Beth
found herself on the point of offering Pa an apol-
ogy for the accusation she had harbored against
him but had not uttered.
No ; he had not reported his loss to the police.
"Thim coppers niver take no intrust in a poor
man, and annyway they niver ketch nothin'."
Why, Pa had even heard it whispered, in high
circles, where they know such things, that "the
coppers is in cahoots wid de robbers all de time ! "
No, he hadn't charged anything against the
young gentleman whose known business it was
to burgle, because they had no sort of evidence
against him, and 'tis a grave crime to accuse a
man falsely ; also, his ma was a nice lady that
Casey wouldn't want to offend, and anyway,
he was going to buy Mollie and Midget red
dresses and red shoes "t' beat th' band," when
he got the grand job that was promised him for
next week sure.
He got up as he said this and moved his chair,
and Beth had her first glimpse of his face. It
was almost the most inoffensive face she had
ever seen, youthfully round in outline and guile-
JUST FOLKS 49
less in expression. The big Irish-blue eyes were
wonderfully appealing, and when Pa smiled,
Beth could see where the children got their
lovely dimples — even under grime and stubble
Much baffled by the problem of Pa was Beth,
when she got to Liza's, but Hart Ferris, who was
awaiting her there, laughed at her perplexity.
"Why, Beth dear," he said, "that rapscallion
probably had the pawn-ticket for those red things
in his pocket when he was talking to you ! A
nice little sentimentalist like you is no match for
Pa ! Now, just to show you, I'm going to drop
in at Maxwell Street police station as I go home,
and ask my old friend, Sergeant Doonan, to
see if he can't find out what Pa did with those red
shoes. No, of course the police don't care — on
general principles — but I'm going to explain to
Doonan ; he has a sense of humor, and he doesn't
mind obliging a newspaper man now and then,
when it's just as easy as not. You wait and see ! "
"Sure, I'll find out!" roared Doonan, when
Ferris told him. Beth and her "job" were a
huge joke to Doonan, and he decidedly relished
this opportunity of belittling the judgment of any
girl who meddled in police matters. "I'll pinch
him to-night and sweat him a bit ; ten to one
we'll find the ticket on him."
They did ! And they "took it off of" him —
So JUST FOLKS
which was not according to law, of course ; for
the law allows a man to steal from his own chil-
dren ; even to steal that which he had no part
in giving them. But the law felt able to take a
few liberties with Casey without fear of his
Doonan sent an officer, first thing next morning,
over to Liza Allen's to give the pawn-ticket to
Beth. The officer said he would go with her to
the pawnshop if she wanted to redeem the things,
and Beth accepted the offer. Out of her own
meagre salary Beth bought back the things,
and when she had got them, she went direct to
Henry Street. The officer was much amused
by the purposeful stride of her and the look of
stern determination in her face. Secretly he
hoped Pa was at home ; he wanted the fun of
standing by and seeing Pa confronted by the
angry little "p'leece lady" with the recovered
Pa was not at home. His pursuit of the grand
job had begun unusually early that morning.
So Beth dismissed the officer — who judged there-
from that she had been a bit afraid of facing Pa
with "the ividince" — and further, withdrew
Mary apart from the children and into the
" front room," before opening her parcel and
disclosing the contents.
"Fer the love o' Hivin !" cried Mary, de-
lightedly. "Wheer did ye git thim ?"
JUST FOLKS 51
She made a move toward the door as if to call
the children to acclaim their recovered treasures.
But Beth stopped her.
"Wait!" she said.
It was harder to do than she had thought it
would be. If only Mary Casey had looked in-
dignant ! But she didn't ; she looked stricken,
and the tears rolled slowly down her shrunken
"I t'ought he was free-an'-aisy-like," she
sobbed. " I knew he didn't have rale ambition t'
git on, but I niver t'ought he'd do a t'ing like
Beth was young, but she was old enough to
have lived through the experience of being brought
face to face with irrefutable proof that some one
she yearned to believe in was baser than she had
supposed possible — yes, and to have hated the
proof-producer ! So she knew how Mary felt,
and how to be grateful when that distressed
woman did not turn on her husband's accuser.
"Don't tell thim," Mary pleaded, meaning
the children. "'Tis hard enough fer thim to be
patient wid him annyway, an' sure it could'n'
do no good to anny wan fer thim children to
know theer pa's a — to know he've been lid into
doin' mean by thim."
So Beth promised and went on her way,
pondering these things in her heart. That was
"dependent children's day "in the Juvenile Court,
52 JUST FOLKS
and Beth rather puzzled the judge by the hesi-
tancy with which she reported on the cases to
which she had been detailed. She didn't seem to
know the exact merits of any of them.
On her way home, she stopped at Henry Street
and found, as she had feared to find, the Caseys
"If Midget will come to Blue Island Avenue
with me," said the contrite Beth, "I'll send back
a little 'treat'."
"What would you like most of anything?"
Beth asked, anticipating a demand for lemon
cream pie and determined not to oppose it.
"Oyster stew!" said Midget, promptly.
At the store — where, Beth learned afterward,
Midget claimed Beth as her "aunt" — they
bought a quart of bulk oysters, a bag of crackers,
half a pound of butter, and two quarts of
"Are you sure your ma knows how to make
oyster stew ?" Beth asked, as she helped Midget
home with her purchases.
"Oh, yes'm, she know how to make it fine,"
Midget cried, hopping along happily but at great
risk of churning the milk she carried. "An' my
pa just love it !"
Beth stopped stock-still on the sidewalk, and
for a mad moment she struggled with the impulse
to dump the oysters out in the street. Then the
JUST FOLKS S3
happiness of the child beside her made her
"I'm just as bad as the charity organizations,"
she told herself when she had seen Midget safely
down the rickety stairs with her "spilly"
treasure. "I'd almost let Mary Casey and those
children starve rather than feed him."
That evening when Hart Ferris called, full of
eagerness to learn how his intervention had
affected the Caseys, Beth surprised him by saying
that she must go out.
"I had to talk to you alone," she explained
when they were on the street. "Somehow the
things I want to say wouldn't say themselves
before dear old Liza Allen — I don't know why,
but they wouldn't."
"And you aren't going to do a thing — even
now?" Ferris urged, when Beth had told him.
"I don't know — " she began feebly.
"Why, Beth," he said, "the law—"
She drew her arm a little closer through his in
an appealing way that made Ferris look down at
"This isn't the law," she said. "This is—"
They were passing a street lamp and Ferris
paused a moment to scan the earnest little face.
"I don't know," whispered Beth, "I don't
know — the — the gospel, I guess." And then
she t51d him about the oysters. "I think —
54 JUST FOLKS
don't be shocked," she said, "but I think I know
how God feels — in a way. It came over me
to-night, all of a sudden, when I had resisted
my impulse to spill the oysters. You see, Hart,
even God can't keep the innocent from suffering
with the guilty, or the guilty from enjoying the
sun and starshine, same as the pure in heart.
Or, if He can, He doesn't. Then why should
we — "
"Don't do it again, my boy," the judge said
kindly, dismissing the case of a badly scared
youngster arrested for begging street-car trans-
fers. "If you didn't know before that it was
wrong, you know now."
Before the dazed boy and his frightened parents
could realize that the law was temporarily through
with them, the chief probation officer had touched
the button at his desk beside the judge's ; a
bailiff was directing the dismissed group out the
front door of the court room, and another bailiff
was ushering a new group in at the side door.
The departing group was Bohemian — stolid,
slow of speech, inclined to be sullen ; the arriving
group was Jewish — Russian Jewish — but un-
usually animated for that race. A decided stir
seemed to come with them into the court room,
and the moment they were in, it became appar-
ent where the "stir" generated. The prisoner
at the bar, the offender against law and order,
was a very small boy, with very big, very scared-
looking bright black eyes ; he was arraigned for
throwing a ball through the store windows of one
Karnowitz, on Twelfth Street. But the con-
versational energy of the party was vested in the
56 JUST FOLKS
prisoner's mother, a wee woman with purply-red
cheeks colored by a network of broken veins,
beady bright eyes, and a volubility that made
her sibilant "s's" sound like escaping steam.
"Herman," said the judge, consulting the data
of the case he held in his hand, "you were
arrested for breaking a window in Karnowitz's
Here Karnowitz jumped excitedly into the
discussion. He was an Oriental-looking Semite,
stoop-shouldered, hook-nosed, gray-bearded —
such a Ghetto type as an artist would immediately
select for his representativeness and for his
"Yess!" he cried, worming his way through
the little crowd of witnesses and court officials
to the judge's desk and shaking an expressive
Hebraic forefinger under the judge's very nose.
"Und how many times I toldt — "
"I'm talking to Herman," said the judge, re-
provingly. "Your turn will come by and by;
I'll let you tell your story after I hear his. Why
did you do it, Herman ? Don't you know win-
dows are expensive, and that it isn't right for
you to throw a ball where it may break a window ?
Don't you know that, to keep you from the
danger of breaking a window, the law says you
mustn't play ball in the street ?"
"Iss it sucha lawss ? He ain'd knowed it iss
sucha lawss," began Herman's mother, shrilly.
JUST FOLKS 57
"In dees coundry iss sucha many lawss — more
as Russia ! — we cand't know all dose lawss !"
The judge turned sharply on the purple-
cheeked little woman and rapped on his desk with
a ruler to emphasize his words. "I want it
understood that I am talking to Herman Rubo-
vitz," he said, "and the next person who answers
a question I ask Herman will be put out of the
court room ! Now Herman — "
And the questioning went on — patient, kindly,
encouraging — till Herman got over his fright
and began to tell the court, confidentially, just
how it happened.
The court showed fine understanding of a boy's
temptations, but firm respect for the rights of
Karnowitz and for the majesty of the law.
Then Karnowitz was allowed to tell his troubles,
briefly,, and the court reminded him that Ghetto
boys have not many places to play ball except in
the street, and urged that due leniency be showed
to youth, if youth had a will to make amends.
"Are you sorry, Herman, that you disobeyed
the law, and that you broke the window in Mr.
Karnowitz's shop ?" Herman nodded. "And
will you promise me faithfully that you will work
and earn money to pay him for a new window ?"
"He cand't ! It is lawss for him nod to work,"
shrilled his mother.
The judge silenced her with a look. "How
old are you, Herman ?"
58 JUST FOLKS
"I'm going to fourteen by Sebtember."
"Well, you mustn't wait till September to
pay Mr. Karnowitz — you must sell papers or
run errands or do something to earn money for
that window this summer. Mr. Karnowitz is a
poor man — he's had to buy a new window to
keep his goods from getting spoiled or stolen —
you must pay that money back to him as soon
as you can — he needs it. Will you promise ?"
Again Herman nodded. " Then I'll put you on
probation with Miss Tully ; she'll let me know
how you get on, and if you don't keep your prom-
ise she'll tell me and have you brought here again.
And the next time I can't let you off so easy.
Do you understand ? "
The buzzer sounded, a bailiff ushering a big
group of colored persons appeared in the side
door, and another bailiff directed the Rubovitzes
and Karnowitz and their needless witnesses and
friends out into the front hall, where little Beth
Tully, fair-haired and blue-eyed, took charge of
Herman and his mother.
"Where do you live ?" she askedMrs. Rubovitz.
"By Henry Streedt — twendy-one."
"Why, I thought you looked familiar!" cried
Beth. "I've seen you when I've been to call
on the Casey s."
"Caseys liff by de rear," said Mrs. Rubovitz,
with scorn. "We liff by de frondt."
JUST FOLKS 59
Beth began to scent a caste other than racial
and religious. "I am very fond of Mrs. Casey,"
she said firmly. Mrs. Rubovitz sniffed. Beth
turned to Herman. "I'll be over to see you to-
morrow, Herman, and we'll talk over what you
had better do about earning that money."
And with that she turned and went back into
the court room. Then something smote her
suddenly, and she darted out again and into the
street after the Rubovitzes.
"I want you," she said, clutching Mrs. Rubo-
vitz by the arm, "to promise me one thing —
promise me you won't beat Herman, or let his
father beat him ! He's going to do what he can
to make this thing right — he's sorry for what
happened, and he's going to be more careful.
I don't want him whipped."
Mrs. Rubovitz stiffened. "That iss parendt's
beeziness," she began.
Beth shook her sharply by the arm. "No, it
isn't," she said. "You foreign parents think it's
the most of your business ; and it isn't. You beat
all the spirit out of your children, instead of
teaching them what is right. Now, if you beat
Herman for this — for being arrested" — she
caught the glitter of the beadlike eyes — "oh,
yes ! I know you have beaten him for it — but
if you do it again — now — when you get home
— to-night — or any time — I'm going to take
him away from you. Do you hear ?"
60 JUST FOLKS
There was such fire in the little " p'leece lady's "
tones that Mrs. Rubovitz shrank away from
her. "Yess," she murmured, "yess — I ain'd
But Herman, staring with wondering big eyes
up at the little lady who was standing thus
valiantly between him and a fierce whipping,
slipped a dirty small hand into hers and squeezed
it silently. And Beth knew she had made a
"I'll bet she beat him anyway," said Liza
Allen, with angry scepticism. "Them Roosians
is so handy with their beatin's."
"No, she didn't," Beth rejoined, with spirit,
"for I made the Caseys promise to tell me if they
heard Herman cry — and I made Herman swear
his most solemn and sacred 'swear' to tell me
if she had or if his father had. Oh!" Beth's
blue eyes flashed fire, "if I couldn't do another
thing for these poor children of the foreigners but
save them a few of the beatings that are always,
always coming to them I'd feel as if my labors
were worth while. Every time, as I go through
the streets or up into the tenements, I hear that
unmistakable cry of a child being whipped, it
freezes the very blood in my veins. I don't
mean that a child who is too young to reason
with ought never to be spanked when it is naughty,
but these people beat their children — little and
JUST FOLKS 61
big — cruelly. The law of this country ought
not to allow it."
"How many Rubovitzes are there?" Hart
Ferris's tone was cool, casual, but Beth knew he
was trying to lead her from the subject that
stirred her to such a trying degree and made her
determined little voice quaver pathetically with
a great pity and indignation.
"Seven — small ones," she answered, giving
him a grateful, understanding look, "and the
parents — Russian Jews. He is what the Ghetto
calls a 'yunker,' I think — a buyer and seller
of cast-off somethings. And she was a tailoress
in the London Ghetto — a refugee like himself —
when he married her there. I believe all, or
nearly all, the children were born here, though.
He's good for nothing, drunken, and cruel.
When she asked him for money to pay
the rent so they wouldn't get ' set out,' what
do you suppose he said ? 'Why should I pay
rent to Mis' Shugar?' Mrs. Shugar is the
landlady. 'Ain'd I bin in this coundry
longer ass Mis' Shugar ? An' I don' own no
Ferris laughed. "That's about the average
political economy of his kind," he said, "and I'll
guarantee he's a citizen and casts his vote, and
gets it counted twice, like as not ! Who sup-
ports them ?"
"The mother, if you can call it support,"
62 JUST FOLKS
said Beth, " aided now and then by the Hebrew
Charities or by the county. She finishes gar-
ments for a sweat shop and earns about sixty
cents a day, if she works all day. I don't believe
they ever have a meal — a real meal ; the loaf
of bread lies on the dirty kitchen table all the
time, and the tea-pot boils all day on the stove,
and maybe there is a piece of 'smelly' fish, or
some scraps of meat with all the juice 'koshered'
out of it ; and when one of the children gets
hungry he runs in and grabs a bite and runs out
again with it in his hand."
"Them furriners has tur'ble tacky ways !"
observed Liza Allen, biting off a thread. Beth
and Ferris loved the smugness and severity of
her condemnation — her complete unconscious-
ness that, viewed from some standpoints they
knew, her "ways" were hardly a degree less
"tacky" than the ways of the "Roosians."
The satisfiedness of Liza was never offensive,
and never harsh, if you understood her. Rather
was it a never-failing delight — yes, and a
rebuke ! Liza was complacent about Joe and
his "learnin'" and his handsome funeral ; about
her flat and its elegant comforts ; about her
American birth, and her membership in The
Daughters of the Bonny Blue Flag ; she was
even complacent about the quality of her
dressmaking, and felicitated her customers that
they came to her instead of getting their "goods
JUST FOLKS 63
all cobbled up by some of the folks that calls
theirselves dressmakers in these days !"
She was whipping the seams of a basque now,
and Beth was threading needles for her as usual ;
while Ferris, who had been discharged from his
responsible job of "pullin' bastin's" because he
"yanked too hard" and broke the threads, was
making a feint of being busy unravelling the
bastings Beth had pulled, and winding them
carefully on a spool, to be used again.
The weather was warm now — hot, sometimes,
for it was the end of May — and Beth and Ferris
might reasonably have been expected to spend the
evenings when he came, out of doors. They
did sometimes, but oftener it was — to Beth's
secret happiness and amusement — Ferris himself
who proposed staying in with Liza. Her dis-
cussions of current topics — world affairs, and
national, and civic — gave him unlimited en-
joyment, and copy.
The fact that Liza seldom stirred far from
Maxwell Street, that the travels of her lifetime
were comprised in that one memorable flitting
from Steubenville to Chicago, that she sat
all day and every day, and far into the nights,
even Sunday, sometimes — "I don't b'leeve
God cares a mite !" she said about this Sabbath-
breaking. "Fust time I done it I was plum
scared — but, land ! It's like fergettin' yer
prayers ; after you done it a couple o' times an'
64 JUST FOLKS
seen things moves on 'bout the same without
your orderin' 'em, it gits so easy you don' notice
it" — none of these things kept Liza from com-
menting freely and decisively upon matters
of the deepest philosophy and the most world-
wide importance. She was a real "cracker-
barrel sage" in petticoats, and Hart Ferris,
with "Mr. Dooley" in mind, was projecting a
"signed column" of Liza's wisdom for his
"Wouldn't it be fine poetic justice," said
Beth, when this project was discovered to her,
"if, after the way you 'took on' about my being
in the slums at all, and my coming to board with
Liza in particular, she should turn out to be the
fairy-godmother of your writing fortunes ? I
tell you, Hart, the real things, worth writing
about, are over here, and I'm glad there's some-
thing, if it's only I, that brings you over here,
where the real things are."
"The Rubovitzes are likely to give you a good
deal to do, I should think," Ferris remarked to
Beth, but hoping to "draw out" Liza Allen
further on the subject of aliens.
Yes, Beth thought it more than likely they
would. "There's Pa," she began, then checked
herself remembering Pa Casey. "Of course,"
she went on, "I don't know Pa Rubovitz or what
his extenuating virtues are — if any ! But on
the surface, it looks as if Pa's political opinions,
JUST FOLKS 65
at least, need readjustment. And there's —
Why! Who's that?"
There were sounds of hastening feet clattering,
stumbling, up the dark stairs, and in a moment
Liza's sitting-room door burst unceremoniously-
open, and Herman Rubovitz stood in the
doorway, pale, panting, and wild-eyed.
"Teacher ! Teacher !" he cried, when he saw
Beth. "Come quick ! Our Abey's got a fit an'
our ma ain't to home."
Without waiting even to snatch up her hat,
Beth followed the frantic boy, and Ferris followed
her. They hurried too fast to talk, but fast as
Beth and Ferris went, Herman outran them and
left them to finish the last lap of their race un-
guided by so much as the echo of his flying heels.
It was almost dog-day hot this unseasonable
May night, and all the Ghetto was out of doors ;
some were asleep on door-steps, garbage boxes,
and elsewhere ; others sat, talking or silent, as
was their nature, dreading the return to stifling
sleeping- rooms. The streets were full of children
Early in the evening, Dewey Casey had laid
himself down in the narrow passageway between
the tenement he lived in and the one next door,
and gone to sleep ; nor was he disturbed by the
cursing of those who stumbled over him in the
pitchy dark. But presently some one, less re-
signed to obstacles than the others, removed
66 JUST FOLKS
Dewey from the path with no gentle foot, and
shrieks of resentment rent the air.
Mary Casey flew to the rescue and carried
Dewey, kicking and screaming, to the top of
the stairs which led down from the sidewalk to
their alleyway ; there she sat down with him
and tried to divert his mind from his injuries
by urging on his notice such objects of interest
as the teeming little street, gasping for breath
on a muggy night, afforded. She was sitting
there, about nine o'clock, when the Rubovitz
front door was flung open and Herman made a
dash for the steps, crying, "Ma ! Where's
" Yer ma ain't here," said Mary Casey, making
way for him. "I see her about an hour ago, her
an' the two little gurls, an' first they stopped to
talk wid Mis' Rosenberg, thin they wint on
towards Blue Island Avenoo."
Herman began to cry. "Abey's dyin'," he
sobbed, and fled in the direction of the avenue,
where he kept up his futile calling as he sped
toward Maxwell Street and Beth.
"Fer the love o' God!" cried Mary Casey;
and gathering up the now sleeping Dewey,
she hurried down the steep, creaking stairs into
the Stygian blackness in which the lowest step
Her knock brought Rachel Rubovitz, a wizened
mite of ten, to the door.
JUST FOLKS 6/
"What's wrong ?" Mary Casey demanded of
For answer the child pointed to Abey, the
youngest Rubovitz, who lay limp and apparently
lifeless in a terrible spasm.
Mary Casey was tolerably familiar with spasms
and she made haste to light the oil-stove and set
on a kettle of water, which was, she remem-
bered, the first thing the doctor always ordered
when any of her children had "been took."
Mrs. Rubovitz, it seemed, had left Abey asleep
on the bed in one of the windowless, stifling closets
that served the Rubovitzes for bedrooms. Ra-
chel was charged to "mind him," and told
to give him a drink of milk if he woke up. He
had waked, poor little mite, steaming and cross,
as he had a right to be, and Rachel had given
him the cup of milk her mother left on the kitchen
table for that purpose.
Abey drank it greedily, crying between gulps,
and then, "hardly he hadn't it down," Rachel
explained, "when he gives a queer noise and
goes like that."
He was still "like that," stark and still,
Mary Casey weeping softly over him and crooning
to him while she tried to chafe his little rigid
limbs, when Beth and Ferris got there.
It was a picture for a modern Rembrandt,
a picture of more compelling human interest
than "The School of Anatomy." The Rubovitz
68 JUST FOLKS
kitchen was dark and dirty, with a kind of an-
cient, old-world darkness and dirtiness which
seemed to invest the Henry Street cellar with an
air as of centuries of grime and poverty. The
lamp on the bracket above the sink only faintly
lighted the room and the faces which showed
so white and anxious against the dusk as they
bent over the stark atom of humanity in the
There was almost an hour of intense battle for
that little life before a doctor came — many
doctors practise in the Ghetto, but not many
live there — and when Ferris finally got back
with a man who knew what to do, and could do it,
and realized that it was not too late, that Abey
might still be saved, he was conscious of an
exultation he would never have dreamed possible
over a child he had not seen before. The splendid,
swelling passion of the saver of life, of the life of
a helpless little child in agony, filled his veins with
a strange new feeling, and as he mopped his
streaming brow and watched the look of life
come back into Abey's wee white body, he was
aware of a revulsion from sick fear to restored
confidence that quite unnerved him.
He looked around for Beth, and found that
with her, too, the reaction had been strong;
for when she knew that Abey would live, she
had sat weakly down, faint with the fright
JUST FOLKS 69
that comes to us after a danger has been
"It isn't his teeth," said the man of medicine,
when he had pried open Abey's mouth and
examined his gums. "What has he had to
Rachel told about the milk. Was there any
left ? No, Abey had drained the cup. Where
had they bought it ? At Goldstein's store
on Henry Street.
To Ferris the doctor murmured something
about "formalin," and gave Abey an antidote.
Then he signed to Ferris to go with him, and the
two men made their way to the top of the creaking
stairs and along staring Henry Street — fully
informed of all that had happened to Abey —
to the store.
The store was closed, but Goldstein answered
the doctor's knocking and came to the door
through which, the moment he opened it, mingled
smells, all bad, rushed assaultingly. Barrels of
salt fish stank abominably, and mingled with
their dominant smell was an indescribable accom-
paniment of kerosene, sauerkraut, rank vinegar,
musty flour, decaying fruits and vegetables, and
"I want to buy some milk," the doctor said.
Goldstein struck a match and lighted the lamp
which hung from the low ceiling. "Nod much
off milk iss left," he said sourly.
jo JUST FOLKS
"Where do you get your milk?" the doctor
Goldstein was half asleep, but he was not to be
caught napping. Meddling persons had come
around before, inquiring into the condition of his
goods, and he resented it ; it was part of the un-
just persecution of the chosen people, he felt,
and racial as well as personal duty demanded
that he frustrate these persons if he could.
"By a milkman — hees name I do nod know,"
"I'll give you till ten o'clock to-morrow morn-
ing to remember his name," the doctor replied.
" If you can't — the police will have to help you."
Then, in a flood of recollection, it came over
Israel who that milkman was.
Somehow, as Ferris said, when you have
fought for the life of a kid — even if your part
of the fight has only been in running like mad
for the doctor — and have won, you can't ever
feel quite ordinary and indifferent about that
kid any more. You kind of want him to thrive
and prosper and grow up into a good kid if
only to prove to you and to the world how well
worth your effort to save him he was.
Ferris felt that way about Abey, and about
the Rubovitzes as Abey's kin. He wrote a story
for the paper about the formalin poisoning, and
the story — doubtless because he was writing
JUST FOLKS 71
intimately, from a particular case, and not
broadly, in generalities — was very appealing,
and started a fresh wave of indignation and re-
form directed against the unscrupulous dealers
who risk the lives of little children. And the
managing editor praised the story, and said Ferris
ought to be given more of that sort of thing to
do. "It's in the air and people like it." And
two women's clubs asked Ferris to come and tell
them about the best ways to crusade for pure
milk. Ferris didn't relish this very much, but
it was a "good card" for him with the managing
editor. He didn't know much about the milk
supply, but he set himself to find out ; and when
he had learned something about it, he found it
so interesting that he could stand up and talk
to the women's clubs about it with no sense of
being "dinky," as he had at first declared he
should feel, and with an earnestness which moved
the women to do real things for the cause.
Thus Ferris was finding out for himself, as
each of us must if we are ever to know it at all,
the one particular wherein "the slums" — so-
called — contradict rather than confirm a general
principle of human nature. Usually, where we
go expecting to get rather than to give, we get
least. But not so in the slurns. No one gets
anything appreciable from the slums, who goes
there full of the idea of w T hat he is about to give
them. Liza Allen had begun to show Ferris
72 JUST FOLKS
what the slums could give him, and Abey Rubo
vitz — no more unconsciously than Liza — had
continued the demonstration.
When the excitement about Abey's "fit"
had died down — and perhaps you think there
wasn't envy in Henry Street, where fits are
common, to see how much was made of Abey's !
— Ferris began to feel almost as much stared
in the face by the Rubovitz necessities as if he
and not Pa were responsible for the family wel-
fare. For, of course, when you've helped to
save a baby from death by poisoned food, you
hate to see him die from no food at all !
A fellow learned a lot of things when he found
himself in the position of guide, philosopher,
and friend to a family like the Rubovitzes.
First of all, there was Herman's promise to earn
the money to pay Karnowitz. Ferris investi-
gated and found that Karnowitz was more than
able to wait. But when he reported this to Beth,
that small person shook her head and murmured
something about "the law."
"Herman broke the window, and he promised
to pay," she said. "The law takes no cognizance
of the fact that Herman needs bread and Karno-
witz owns three houses on Twelfth Street. It
is bad for Herman to be hungry, but it would be
worse for him to have our aid in evading the law."
, "Oh, hang the law!" said Ferris, crossly.
Beth opened her blue eyes wide in well-
JUST FOLKS 73
simulated surprise. "Why, Hart Ferris !" she
"You know what I mean !" he retorted,
"The law's all right — in the abstract — I sup-
pose. But when you get down to cases it doesn't
ever seem to fit."
"No," Beth agreed soberly, "it doesn't. But
we can't tell Herman that — not yet !"
So Herman was relentlessly supervised in the
weekly handing over of his newspaper pennies
to Karnowitz until the truly awful sum of four
dollars had been paid.
Meantime, of course, Ferris was not only
slipping Mrs. Rubovitz a dollar or two every
time he came, but he was telling his friends about
her and getting here a bit and there a bit, to
help her. He "passed the hat" in the city room
when the rent had to be paid, and raged silently
as he gave the money into Mrs. Shugar's own
hands, to think how complacently Pa would
accept it as America's due to him.
Like a good many other earnest persons bat-
tling with pain and want and aspiring to find a
panacea, Ferris was glad oftentimes — when
even individual cure seemed beyond hope — to
grasp at the merest alleviation.
About the middle of June, an alleviation pre-
sented itself. It was called "The Greatest
74 JUST FOLKS
Show on Earth or Elsewhere!" and Ferris,
knowing the chief press agent, got "quite a
bunch" of tickets.
He was more delighted than Beth had ever
seen him, for he was going to take Liza Allen
and a whole flock of Rubovitzes and Caseys.
Liza had been to a circus once in Steubenville,
with Adam Spear, forty years ago, but none of the
Caseys or Rubovitzes had even the faintest idea
what a circus was like.
In vain, except for Beth's secret amusement,
Ferris "lined up" his prospective party before
the hoardings on Blue Island Avenue and pointed
out tigers, and elephants, and giraffes, and rhi-
noceroses, and performing seals. The "fauna"
of Henry Street was limited to horse, dog, cat,
and butcher-shop chicken, and Henry Street
stood unmoved before the lithographs of creatures
it could not comprehend.
"Wait till they see them!" Ferris said to
Beth. Also, alas, in vain !
The party arrived early, to inspect the menag-
erie at leisure and get back to their seats before
the " grand entry." Speechless they stood before
the long line of elephants swinging their restless
trunks and opening wide their mouths in frequent
invitations for small peanuts. Presently, "What
hangs down?" whispered Benny Rubovitz to
Beth, in a tone more alarmed than merely in-
JUST FOLKS 75
The wolves and bears and sundry other animals
passed more or less unnoticed, as "dogs" of
strange breeds. Little Rosie Rubovitz, next
older than Abey, was in Ferris's arms and, at
sight of the lions, her lovely little face dimpled
with pleasure. "Kittie ! Kittie!" she cried,
and reached out her tiny hand as if to "pat."
It was Mollie Casey who capped the climax,
though. Turning from the camels, with a look
of deep disgust, she said to Beth, "I don't
like thim very well, do you?"
"I'm afraid," said Beth to Ferris in an under-
tone, " that our guests are a little shy on natural
history, to get a great deal out of this."
"Natural history, nothing!" Ferris returned,
with spirit. "They're shy on the commonest
rights of childhood — that's what they're shy
But, notwithstanding their acceptance of danc-
ing elephants and band-playing seals as ordi-
nary — for all the children knew, these were the
regular pastimes of the strange animals in their
native haunts — Ferris's party had an exceedingly
good time at the circus. They loved the
"purrade," shrieked at the clowns, and rose —
the boys of them — to a perfect frenzy of excite-
ment over some of the acrobatics, and particu-
larly over the men who rode, standing, two horses
at once, while driving a long string of others
76 JUST FOLKS
"Gee !" breathed Johnny Casey, standing up
and -watching, watching, with straining, staring
eyes. "That's something to do — all right, all
"I'm glad 'tain't me that has to earn my livin'
that way," observed Liza, devoutly. She didn't
say much else, but Beth and Ferris both knew the
greatest pleasure she got out of the circus was
feeling sorry for the "folks" that were obliged
to be in it.
During an interval when the clowns were the
chief performers and the children were laughing
hysterically, Liza seemed lost in thought so
serious that Beth asked her suggestively, "What
"I was thinkin' 'bout Mis' Nation," said Liza,
"Carrie Nation." One of the clowns was im-
personating Carrie with her hatchet. "She's
a consid'rable younger 'n' spryer woman'n I
took her to be."
" I'm afraid it wasn't a very successful party,"
said Ferris to Beth when he was bidding her
good night at the top of Liza Allen's dark stairs.
"It was a very successful party," Beth assured
him, with a tender little emphasis of her own
sweet kind, "and don't you ever doubt it. It's
no sign of failure because they didn't get exactly
JUST FOLKS 77
what you thought they'd get out of it. Joy
is a various commodity, dear. And don't you
ever tell Liza it wasn't really Carrie Nation she
saw. It would break her heart!"
When Herman's debt to Karnowitz was paid,
school was out and Ferris undertook to see what
he could do about getting Herman a permit to
work at some slightly safer and surer calling than
"flipping" Halsted Street cars selling newspapers.
Herman would be fourteen in September, and
Ferris apprehended no difficulty in getting him
a permit from the state factory inspector. But
Ferris, being a newspaper man, ought to have
known better. A wave of outraged public senti-
ment had recently hit the always indefatigable
office of the factory inspector very hard, and zeal
for the saving of little children had mounted on
the crest of the wave to frenzy. As must happen,
doubtless, when any fine reform is to be carried
through, a great deal of unnecessary and un-
discriminating rigor bore heavily upon many
who might well have been spared.
Herman was not fourteen, and he couldn't
have a permit. That was all there was to it !
The inspector was firm.
"He iss fourdeen by Sebtember t'ird," urged
Mrs. Rubovitz. "He cand't go to school no
more before he iss fourdeen — there iss no more
school before he iss fourdeen. How can he go to
78 JUST FOLKS
school till he iss fourdeen,~when it iss no more
school before he iss fourdeen ? He's fourdeen
by Sebtember t'ird. It iss no more school
before Sebtember t'ird ! How can — "
"That will do !" yelled the inspector, trying to
stem the torrent of language which was increasing
in volume and velocity until a catastrophe
threatened. But the permit was not forth-
"Sucha lawss!" declared Mrs. Rubovitz to
Ferris as they came away. "Bedtter we might
have staid by Roosia — there at leasd one can
Ferris made a faint effort to placate, to explain,
but Mrs. Rubovitz was not inclined for peace.
"Und look at dose schoolss !" she cried,
"Whad do dey teach by dem that iss so much
bedtter ass to vork ? Always my Rosie comes
home und brings a leaf, und 'Look, ma, by de
fairies' carped!' she sayss. Dey learn dem to
oh ! an' vonder by everyt'ing. Whad way iss
dat ? I ask you. Do I vish my Rosie by some-
body's house to bring und dat she should oh !
und vonder about everyt'ing, like a child dat's
never seen nothing to home ? Und las' vinter
dey tried to gif de childerns bat's [baths] und my
Jonah comes home und 'Ma, I shouldt be vashed ! '
he sayss, und how de teacher tried to have him
scrubbed all over he tells me, bud he screamed
und vould not ; und she says come home und tell
JUST FOLKS 79
me he must be bat'd, und I sayss 'You can tell
her I chust god you sewed ub for de vinter und
I ain'd goin' to take off your clodes before it iss
spring, nod for no one.' Sucha lawss !"
"And you can't really blame her for getting
mad," said Ferris, telling Beth about his ex-
perience, "for it's all in the point of view, and to
Mrs. Rubovitz's present viewpoint our benevo-
lent laws are harder to bear than Russian tyr-
Beth didn't say anything — just narrowed her
blue eyes in their funny little squint, and looked
at Ferris. He was learning fairly fast, she de-
cided. But she was surprised, a few nights later,
when she had a new way of measuring just what
Hart Ferris had learned from Maxwell and Henry
Back in the spring evenings by Liza's lamp,
Liza had begun to show at times a lagging list-
lessness that was most unusual with her. And
one night the secret of it had come out : Joe's
fun'ral was most paid for ! A week or two
more of unwearying work, a couple more pay-
ments, and the splendid tribute for which she
had been toiling for five years would become a
memory — a memory only, after having been
an ever-present incentive through all those years
it had redeemed from loneliness.
"Dunno how it'll seem — workin' along fer
80 JUST FOLKS
just rent an' vittles," said Liza, admitting her
quandary to Beth and Ferris. "I ain't never
done it in my hull life. Even when Joe was took
I wasn't so bad off, fer I had his fun'ral to work
fer. But the way things are gittin' now, I don't
see nothin' ahead."
Beth didn't know quite how much Ferris
appreciated this point of view of Liza's, but she
was to find out. He appeared at Maxwell
Street, one evening in July, so evidently bursting
with suppressed excitement that he at once
communicated to Beth his fever of anxiety to get
out of the house and away where private talk
"What is it ?" she begged, almost the moment
they were out of Liza's hearing.
"Beth!" he said — and after she had heard
his news she loved him for the tremor in his
voice, for the feeling it betrayed — "Beth, dear,
what do you think ? I've found Adam Spear !"
"Yes ! Liza's Adam Spear, who left her forty
years ago for sticking to her worthless brother
"Why, Hart, however — where? Now don't
tell me he owns a lumber-yard and rides in a
"Better than that!" Ferris's voice was very
"trembly," and he squeezed hard the small hand
he had drawn through his arm. "Better than
JUST FOLKS 8 1
that — for Liza, dear ! He's poor and old and
homeless and decrepit. Won't she be happy with
him ? And hasn't he come back to her in the
nick of time ?"
Then he told her about finding Adam. "When
Liza first told us about him," he said, "I had a
queer, 'kid notion' how romantic it would be if
he should come back — now that Joe's dead and
his funeral paid for — and make things up to her
for all the past, in some fairy-tale way. Then I
laughed at myself for even thinking such a By- Joe
melodrama could ever happen in real life, and
forgot all about Adam Spear, until to-day, when
I went out to Hegewisch to look up a 'murder
mystery.' I didn't find any very exciting evi-
dences of a murder, or a mystery, but I found an
old man who does odd jobs about a carpenter
shop, who was said to ' know 's much about it 's
anybody.' I guess he did, but it wasn't much.
He was a gabby old party, and to get out of
him what I wanted, I had to let him tell me about
everything he knew. Somewhere in the auto-
biography, I caught 'Steubenville,' and kind o'
'came to.' 'What did you say your name was ?'
I asked him. And when he said 'Spear — Adam
Spear,' well, Beth, you should have seen Your
Only True Love, here ! I guess for a minute
Adam thought I was crazy. ' Liza Allen's beau ? '
I cried, almost pouncing on him. 'Well, I
uster be,' he admitted, without any emotion that
82 JUST FOLKS
I could see. 'Are you — are you — married ? '
I hastened to ask. No, he wasn't, 'ner hadn't
never been. Women folks is all right fer some,
but if you kin git along without 'em they're
more bother'n they're worth.' "
Ferris looked down at Beth. He wanted to see
"I hope you know a good bluff when you see
one," she said briefly.
"I do," he answered, "and what's more, I
know better than to call it. I used to think it was
smart to call a fellow's bluff — I know better now."
Beth smiled appreciatively up at him. "And
so ?" she said.
"And so I told him about Liza, and about
Joe's death, and — "
"When's he coming ?"
"Well, I think that with a little urging — to
encourage the bluff — he would have come to-
night. But I thought I'd better wait and ask you
what your guess about Liza is."
"Could you get him to-morrow ?" Beth asked
"Is that your guess ?"
Beth was quiet for a moment, then answered
with a nod. "If you can call it a guess," she
said presently, and her tone was very soft, her
manner full of self-searching thoughtfulness.
"Liza's a woman, and it's hardly guessing — with
JUST FOLKS 83
There was a wistful light in Ferris's eyes.
"Then the men who fail of success don't fail of
everything, do they ? "
Beth shook her head.
"It's a world of compensations, isn't it?"
said Ferris, looking up at the friendly stars.
"And everything's in the point of view."
Having found Adam, Hart Ferris felt that all
there remained to be done was to help plan the
details of "a nice little wedding."
But Beth eyed him in surprise that one who
had been under her teaching so long should still
know so little. "Wedding?" she said, "why,
they aren't even engaged !"
"But you said you were sure that Liza would
want him," Ferris urged.
"I know I did ! I know she does — but you
don't suppose she'll let him find it out right away,
do you ?"
It was Ferris's turn to look amazed. "Right
away ?" he echoed uncomprehendingly. "Why,
they were engaged 'way back in sixty-something-
"An engagement is outlawed after fourteen
years," observed Beth, promptly.
"Well," sighed Ferris, "I hope they don't
want to wait around for forty years more before
they get married."
"I don't think they will," Beth assured him,
"but you must give them time to court. Liza's a
woman, and I don't believe women change very
JUST FOLKS 85
much between seventeen and seventy. Liza
makes wrappers for the Ghettoites, at fifty cents
'fer the makin',' but she's a coquette to the core
for all of that and her white hair, and Adam'll
have to 'set up to' her, unless I'm much mis-
"I thought she'd be crazy to get him back —
now that Joe's funeral's paid for."
" So she will be — but she won't let him find
it out too soon to spoil the interest. Of course
she'll marry him, and support him, and give him
the last drop of her poor old heart's blood, if he
needs or wants it. But she'll make him 'walk
"Oh!" said Ferris — convinced, but not en-
"A woman's got to have her way some time —
or think she's having it," Beth observed sagely,
"and, as Liza herself would say, 'Them as has
it before, ain't half so likely to be standin'
out fer it afterwards.'"
She was right. As old Adam Spear had
bluffed to Ferris about "women folks bein' all
right fer some ; but if you kin git along without
'em, they're more bother'n they're worth,"
so Liza bluffed to Beth when Beth told her.
"I ain't surprised he never married," was
Liza's first remark after Beth's story had come
tumbling excitedly out, "he was awful cut up
'bout me — an' then ! wouldn't nobody but an
86 JUST FOLKS
awful stiddy woman ever have tackled Adam
Spear — an' he wa'n't never one to keer much
about mere stiddiness, less'n it had some ginger
'long with it — which most stiddy women lacks
poor things !" It was evident from Liza's man-
ner that while she might plead guilty to some
"stiddiness," it was the ginger that was her pride.
"I told him," ventured Ferris, almost persuaded
by Liza's magnificent nonchalance that she
didnH really care, "that I thought you'd be —
willing for him to — to call."
Liza bit off a thread and made a new knot on
the end of it. "Oh, I don' mind — if he's set
on it" she said.
Accordingly, it then became Ferris's delicate
task to see Adam Spear and appeal to his chiv-
alry with an account of Liza's intense eagerness
to see her old beau again.
"Well," Adam agreed at last, yielding hand-
somely, "when you put it that way, does seem's
if I'd kind of ought to go."
So he went. Ferris took him, one evening.
He and Beth had planned how they might slip
away and leave the old folks alone to get over their
explanations and to commence their courting,
but Liza forestalled Beth's amiable intention
by saying: "Now, I don' want no foolishness !
You two jest set right here an' act 's if nothin'
had happened. I don't intend to have Adam
Spear a-palaverin' 'round me an' makin' out
JUST FOLKS 87
how I've blasted his life, an' the like o' that.
Course I'm sorry fer him fer bein' sich a fool's he
was — but 'tain't goin' to help matters now to
tell him of it!"
And Adam had similarly checked Ferris's plan.
"I hope she ain't turned out to be one o' these
here hystericky women," he murmured as they
neared Maxwell Street; "I alius did hate fer a
woman to take on over me. Don't you go off an'
leave me, young fella — an' if she begins to git
weepy, or to hold it agin me that I didn't marry
her, I tell you, I won't stay!" Thus adjured,
Beth and Ferris chaperoned the meeting.
About six o'clock on the appointed evening,
Beth came in from her round of visiting juvenile
delinquents and dependents, and found Liza
kneeling on the floor before the kitchen table,
awkwardly wielding the flat-iron over her weird-
looking " horns" of front hair; Liza's method of
crimping was to wet her hair, wind it on large
steel pins, and iron it dry — a troublesome
method to which she did not resort except
for especial occasions. And Liza did not like to
admit that this was a special occasion. She
scrambled to her feet guiltily and confronted
Beth defiantly. "I alius have to crimp my hair
when I've washed my head," she began at once,
as if Beth had questioned her; "otherwise I'm
a sight to behold." Beth wondered what excuse
Liza would offer for wearing her good dress
88 JUST FOLKS
on a Wednesday evening — for of course she'd
wear it, and of course she wouldn't admit why.
But the excuse was forthcoming. "Declare to
goodness," cried Liza, raising her right arm and
disclosing a gaping worn place which Beth had
been noting since Monday morning, "if this
wrapper ain't a-droppin' off me ! I'll set right
down, now, an' mend it while I think of it."
And "set" she did — but she put on her good
dress before "settin'," although it was a "stuff"
dress, and the night was warm. She wore her
"broach," too, and her apron with the crochet
edge. And when she had gone thus far, she
seemed to think candor the best policy; for
"I guess Adam Spear'll see that a woman with
sperrit ain't got to be hitched to no man, to git
along in this world !" she remarked.
For the occasion, too, all sewing was put by,
and Liza was reading The News, like a lady of
elegant leisure, when Adam was ushered in.
"Well, I declare — Adam Spear !" she greeted
him, laying down her paper, taking off her
"specs," and putting on a casualness which
would have deceived the astutest man.
"Howdy, Liza," Adam answered awkwardly.
"Evenin', Mr. Ferris," said Liza, looking past
Adam as if he were the merest incident and mo-
mentary interest in him had ceased. "Won't
ye both set?" she asked formally. Adam
took the farthest chair.
JUST FOLKS 89
"I was jest," observed Liza, taking up the
paper she had laid down, "a-readin' 'bout some
doin's they bin havin' to Gettysburg. You was
in the war, wasn't you, Adam ? Was you to
Adam gasped. "Why, sure I was !" he said
presently, when he could ejaculate, "an' got
wownded in the leg — an' you made me some
night-shirts, soon's you heard I was in the hors-
"Why, so I did," said Liza, as if with an effort
of memory, "though we was on diffrunt sides."
"Well, the war's over now," observed Adam,
cheerfully, " an' I guess you wa'n't never enough
of a rebel to hurt nothin'."
"I b'long to the Daughters o' the Bonny Blue
Flag !" declared Liza, defiantly.
"An' I b'long to the G.A.R.," said Adam,
handling his coat lapel where he wore the bronze
button of the Union's defenders; "but law ! if
we was able to fergit our diffrunces in '65, seems
like we might make out to put up with 'em in
this year o' grace !"
"Princ'ples," remarked Liza, severely, "ain't
strong in the young as they be when you've
l'arned how much they stan' fer."
Ferris and Beth looked at each other a little
apprehensively. Liza's tone was so sharp that,
for a moment, they could hardly realize she was
only fabricating this barrier in the course of true
9 o JUST FOLKS
love, to "make things interestin'," as she would
"How Cupid does love hurdles" Ferris re-
marked thoughtfully to Beth when he had a
chance to talk it over with her. " If he can't
find a ready-made Capulet-Montague feud, he'll
send a poor old doddeky pair of victims like this
harking back to the Civil War for a difference —
so they can have the joy of bridging it !"
"I hear," said Mary Casey, " you've a weddin'
comin' off at your house."
"We have," answered Beth; "isn't it inter-
Mary looked dubious. "Well, I dunno,"
she said. " Seems t' me if a woman have man-
aged t' git along widout a man to her time o'
life, she might make out alone to the ind. Min is
a tur'ble lot o' trouble t' break in — an' I don' see
but what her ole fella's like to die before she gits
him so's she kin stan' his ways — leavin' her wid
all her trouble fer nothin'. Beats all — what a
woman'll undertake ! "
Mary had come over to the Juvenile Court to
wait for Beth and "walk a piece" with her.
She had something to say that she didn't care
to say before her children — who were always
under foot when Beth was there — nor yet
before Liza Allen — who was always "mixin' in"
JUST FOLKS 91
when Mary went to her house to see Beth. So
they had to have recourse to the streets — just as
the people of Maxwell and Henry Streets must
nearly always do when they wish privacy.
"Sure," Mary hastened to explain, after her
seemingly pessimistic remark about "min" and
marriage, "I belave 'tis in the nature of ivry
woman t' want a man t' try her hand on. All of
us belaves oursilves born min-tamers — an' none
of us iver lose the notion, though some of us
kapes tryin' diffrunt min, lookin' fer success
wid wan out o' the lot, an' some kapes tryin' the
same man over an' over — like me. But I s'pose
it ain't in the nature of anny woman t' be willin'
t' die widout seein' what she kin do t' rayduce
wan man to a state of daycincy."
This seemed to bring Mary in due course to
the object of her visit. " 'Tis about Ang'la Ann,"
she said — and turned to Beth, who was begin-
ning to know Mary well enough not to be sur-
prised at the quickness with which the glint of
shrewd humor had died out of her face and been
succeeded by a look of deep anxiousness.
"What about her?"
"Well — she 've got a rid skirt — "
"A red skirt?"
" She 've bin crazy fer wan — mebbe ye didn'
know — an' I couldn' give 'er no money t' git
wan, 'count of her pa not workin'. An' she
was tur'ble down-hearted 'bout it. Night before
92 JUST FOLKS
last, she'd a bundle wid 'er whin she come home,
an' tried t' snake it in widout me seein' it.
' What's that ?' I sez. An', 'Oh, nothin' !' she
sez. I didn't make no effort t' urge 'er, but
yistiddy, whin she was gon' t' work, I looked an'
foun' it under her mattrass — an' it was a new
rid skirt. 'Wheer did ye git that ?' I asked 'er,
last avenin' — an' first she wouldn' tell me.
Then she said one o' the fellas t' wheer she work
give it to her — an' she kind o' let out that he's
wan that Stan's up to her consid'rable."
Mary paused and looked at Beth, as if to see
how shocked she was. But Beth, who was
thinking hard, said nothing for a moment, and
Mary plunged on.
"Ain't it tur'ble ?" she cried. "I toP Ang'la
she must take it right back — but she wouldn'.
'He's the only wan that keer enough about me
to keer if I'm shabby er daycint !' she sez. 'I
can't niver go no place ner have no fun,' she sez,
'because I ain't got nothin' fit t' wear. He's
sorry for me — an' he give me the skirt — an'
I ain't goin' t' take it back, I don' keer what you
say ! ' I couldn' do nothin' wid her, Miss Tully —
an' I'm that onaisy 'bout her I'm most out o'
"I know," said Beth, nodding her head briskly.
"She can't have it, of course. I'll see if I can't
make her understand."
"Will ye, now?" cried Mary, gratefully.
JUST FOLKS 93
" Poor little t'ing ! She 've no idare how I do hate
to have her give it up — ner what harm he may-
mane in givin' it. Ain't it awful, Miss Tully,
how the young has to be always unbelavein' of
the love that do keer most fer theer good, an'
riddy t' belave in anny wan that'll spake fer
theer plisure ?"
That night Beth went over to see Angela Ann
and to take her out for a walk. Angela Ann was
sixteen, and pretty. She was slight and full of
grace. Her hands and feet were small and
shapely. Her big Irish-blue eyes were fringed
with curling lashes of extraordinary length.
Her skin was milk-white (when it was clean) and
satin-soft ; all the Casey children had exquisite
skin. And she had dimples in her cheeks, like
her pa's. Her hair was thick and of a rich chest-
nut color, and she took pretty good care of it,
considering her pitifully limited facilities. Angela
Ann liked to "be nice"; she liked to go to the
baths on Fourteenth Street, and she did, when
she could spare the nickel. She never looked
particularly pretty, because she was ungroomed
and grotesquely dressed ; but when you got to
know her, you were often conscious, as you looked
at her, of figuring what a remarkably pretty
girl she would be with half a chance. She had
figured it, too, of course.
But poor Angela had gone to work when she
was twelve, as cash-girl. After a brief appren-
94 JUST FOLKS
ticeship at that, she became a bundle wrapper.
When she was fourteen, she was pasting labels
on a patent medicine. Soon thereafter she had
transferred her operations to a cheap mail order
concern that advertised gold rings for thirty-
nine cents. Presently she was back again at
bundle wrapping. She had no ability, no pros-
pects — she drifted from job to job, squeezing in,
unchallenged, at rush seasons and being re-
morselessly let off the moment it became pos-
sible to weed the unfit from the fit. And all
this time she brought her pay envelopes home
untouched, receiving back from her mother what
could be spared — for carfare in bad weather ;
for an occasional five cents to add a bakery deli-
cacy to the bread and meat she carried from home
for lunch ; and for a pair of cheap shoes when the
ragged old ones promised a spell of sickness un-
less they were replaced. If she achieved a ribbon
for her hair or her neck, a ten-cent string of blue
beads when all the girls were wearing them, or a
bunch of roses for the hat she bought out of a
sidewalk bin on Halsted Street, it was at the
price of carfare and lunch money. She had
never bought a dress, nor even a shirt-waist ; her
clothing always came through some chance
charity and seldom or never bore any relation to
her desires. Did she long for a tan jacket ?
The coat that eventually came her way was sure
to be a black ulster. Did she crave a red skirt ?
JUST FOLKS 95
The only skirt that her more prosperous aunt
Maggie could afford to give away was bound to
be green or purple. Did she dream of a "peeka-
boo" waist ? Alas ! peekaboos never seemed to
get into the cast-off bundles, and she had to
summon what grace she could to wear a gray
flannel or a brown madras, with long sleeves.
Ordinarily, Angela Ann bore these outrageous
fortunes with a heroism no less great than that
which has got some folks a statue in the public
parks. But the most heroic undoubtedly have
"off times," seasons of strong distaste for the
hero's job ; and Angela Ann, it seemed, had
come to one of these intervals of revolt. Beth
wondered, as she went along teeming, sweltering
Henry Street toward the flight of steep, creaking
steps leading down to the Caseys' basement, how
she could summon stern morality enough to lec-
ture Angela on the hideousness of taking a red
skirt "off'n a fella" — yet it must be done, of
course ! And she must do it.
They went over to Halsted Street — she and
Angela — and walked slowly up to Madison on
the east side of the street where, for some occult
reason, the five-cent theatre does not flourish.
From this comparatively sedate side, they looked
over to the gaudy other side where penny arcades
and saloons with free vaudeville, and nickelo-
deons, and gaudy Greek candy parlors, vie with
the groggeries and the pawnshops in number.
96 JUST FOLKS
As they walked, Angela looked across, and Beth
talked — trying to point out the short and easy
step from a good time to a very, very bad
Angela listened for a while, then began to pour
out her grievances. It was all very well to talk,
but what was a girl to do ? She couldn't " have
nobody to home — to set in the kitchen wid the
whole fam'ly. An' they [meaning her pa and
ma] won' l'ave me go no place — an' if they
would, I couldn' go, not haven' a daycint rag to
wear. Pa's awful pertickler — about other folks.
He said he didn' care if lots o' girls I know do go
to dance halls — theer no place fer a daughter o'
his, though they might do fer the girls of thim
immygrints wid no understandin' o' what's
what. But min like Pa that's seen the world,
theer too wise t' l'ave theer girls go by no
dances." He even frowned on her going — as
she sometimes did, with her Aunt Maggie and
Uncle Tim "of a Sat'dy night" — to the By-Joe
(Bijou) to see "Nellie the Beautiful Cloak-
Model," or "On the Stroke of Twelve," or "The
White Queen of Chinatown." But Mary had
overruled him there, it seemed, reassured by
Angela's answer to her anxious query if the By-
Joe was a "rayspictable" place: "Why, sure,
Ma, it's a rayspictable place!" Angela had
hastened to exclaim ; " 'tis a gran' theayter, an'
swell people goes there. Why, it say on the wall,
JUST FOLKS 97
'No shpittin' ner shwearin' allowed'!" And,
on the same conviction that "girls do be after
nadein' a little plisure now an' thin — ye can't
kape thim in yer pocket," Mary had secretly
raised Pa's ban against amusement parks — on
Angela's solemn promise "not to touch no beer,
ner to take up wid anny man yer not properly
introjooced to," and, above all, to "kape no
comp'ny wid thim that wint to Chinee places."
But Angela couldn't afford to go to amusement
parks on her own treat, and it was hard to "get
ast by a fella " when you had no place to entertain
a fellow and no clothes, and when everybody
was " always throwin' it into you not to go wid no
fella ner to take nothin' off'n thim." There was
Gertie O'Malley now — the belle of Henry
Street. Gertie's pa was a policeman, and Gertie
had a "parlie" and a piano and a silk dress and a
whole court of Nineteenth Ward beaus, attracted
partly by Gertie's loudly assertive charms and
partly by the expediency of standing in with
Gertie's pa. Angela felt very wroth with her sire.
Not every man, she knew, can be a policeman ;
but any man as smart as Pa Casey had a right
to be a good deal "more of a pervider ner what
he was !"
Beth granted all this ; she sympathized ; she
inveighed against Pa and conditions ; she cajoled ;
she painted the rewards of virtue in glowing colors
and told herself that though she believed in
98 JUST FOLKS
these rewards, it was asking too much of Angela to
believe in them too. For in Angela's sphere of
life — as in some others — it takes a pentrating
spiritual vision indeed to see beyond the ap-
parent success of vice and the apparent failure of
"I know, Angela," Beth said, "I know it's hard,
but what can you do ? For you must be good
— mustn't you ? You must be good !"
"Yes'm, I s'pose so," Angela admitted.
"Well, then, you can't do it unless you're
careful — always on the lookout, as I tell you.
For I don't suppose any girl ever went wrong
because she decided to go to the devil ; she gets
there before she realizes — that's it ! No supper
with the foreman when you work late, remember ;
foremen don't spend supper money on girls out
of pure benevolence. No theatre tickets from
the boss ; no candy — no red skirts — no — no
anything!" It was an ordeal to honest little
Beth — demanding this heroically difficult virtue
of a starveling like Angela Ann ; but she knew
she must persevere in it.
"You take back the red skirt, Angela," she
said, finally, "and tell the young man your ma
never lets you take presents. And I'll get you a
nicer one, somehow — and maybe a nice shirt-
Thus bribed, Angela Ann took back the skirt.
But Beth was dubious if the victory were one
JUST FOLKS 99
of morals or of " a shirt-waist to boot." When she
came to think of it, though, she could not see
that many people's morals can be easily divorced
The return of the red skirt precipitated a small
tragedy. "He" told Angela she was a fool,
and he passed the joke around the shop, so
that Angela went to Beth in a passion of tears,
declaring she would never go back there again ;
that she loved him dearly and was sure she
would never meet another fellow half so nice;
and that she wished she "was dead, anyhow."
Beth promised to get her another job and
wisely refrained from urging it upon her that "he"
was well lost.
"When we get your new skirt and waist, Mr.
Ferris and I will take you out to Riverview," she
promised, "and try to give you a good time."
"Goin' wid another girl an' her beau, ain't the
same's going wid yer own," sobbed Angela.
No, it wasn't; Beth knew. "But a girl like
you won't be long without a beau, Angela dear.
If you keep sweet and good, some fine young
man'll come along and make you a good hus-
"Oh," wailed Angela, "that's what Ma's
always sayin' — an' you — an' it's in the plays an
the story-books an' the Advice to the Lovelorn ;
but it ain't so ! The girls that's free an' aisy
wid the min gits the most beaus — an' thim
ioo JUST FOLKS
that tries to do right gits laughed at, an' called
Again Beth was silenced, unable to deny the
seeming truth of this ; unable to ask Angela's
childish eyes to see past all the surface injustice of
the world's way of apportionment, to the real
status of things, where it becomes apparent that
each of us get, somehow, just about what we
"I don't know why any one should expect
Angela to see that deep — to have a hope that
her experience won't justify," Beth told her-
self passionately; "but oh! she must be made
to see it, in some way, or to take it on faith. She
must ! She must !"
The way Beth appealed to them about the
red skirt and the peekaboo waist made several
persons only too glad to help out ; and the way
she urged the vital necessity of a new job, and an
attractive new job at that, made one of her
staunch supporters glad to give it to her.
"What can your girl Jo?" the staunch sup-
porter asked, poising his pen above an order blank
which, signed by him, would commend Angela
to the foreman of his factory for immediate
"Do?" echoed Beth, excitedly. "Do? I
don't believe she can do anything ! But she
needs the job /•"
"You're an excellent economist, Miss Tully,"
JUST FOLKS 101
said the staunch supporter, smiling, as he handed
her the order for Angela's 3#&'} i :' I'M '
"I'm a better economist than he knows, I
guess," Beth thought, as she hurried to Henry
Street with his order. "I don't say it's ideal
economy giving Angela a job not because she can
fill it but because she needs it — but I guess it's
at least as good economy as letting her go where
she may go if she doesn't get it — and prosecuting
her after she goes — and prosecuting others be-
cause of what she's dragged them to — and bury-
ing her, while she's yet young, in the Potter's
Field ! I guess the difference between the way
Angela does the job and the way some other
girl might have done it, won't be as great as the
difference it might make to Angela if she didn't
get the job !"
" I suppose my allotment will be to get Angela
a new beau!" laughed Ferris, when Beth re-
counted to him her other successes.
"If you only could!" Beth sighed. "But I
suppose that's something that, in America, every
girl has to do for herself. What you can do,
though, is to take Angela and me out to River-
view, some night this week, and help me give her
one good time."
Ferris smiled, but agreed. Angela, in all the
splendor of her new red skirt and her peekaboo
waist, was called for with all ceremony. (Beth
only wished she knew some one "with an auto-
102 JUST FOLKS
mobile and " a sense of humor — if they ever
go together !"-- v/bc might have loved the
human comedy well enough to take a hand in it
for this evening. But she didn't.) And even
Pa-the-particular speeded their going and wished
them, handsomely, a "gran' time."
But alas ! and alas ! for the best-laid plans.
While they stood — Hart Ferris and Beth and
Angela Ann — watching the crowds on the danc-
ing floor, Angela gave a queer little cry, half
rage, half pain, and dashed away as if in quest
of a place to hide among the trees.
"Why, Angela, what's the matter ?" implored
Beth when she had overtaken the girl.
For a few moments, Angela was so shaken with
sobs that she could not reply. Then: "It's
him!" she wailed; "him an' Nellie McGuire
wid the rid skirt on!"
Nellie McGuire worked in the same shop, it
seemed, and it had evidently not been "agin her
princ'ples" to accept a red skirt "ofPn a fella,"
nor against her pride to take one that she knew
had been returned by another girl.
Hart Ferris, when the tragedy was explained
to him, had the usual masculine perspicacity
about affairs of the feminine heart.
"Maybe it wasn't the same skirt," he observed,
And the look Angela gave him was so withering
that, in spite of herself, Beth laughed.
JUST FOLKS 103
Ferris's next masculine inspiration was whis-
pered to Beth. "Let's take her into one of these
funny side-shows and divert her," he suggested.
Beth had a momentary temptation to look
withering herself — but she overcame it. She
was growing used to the uncomprehendingness
of masculinity, and beginning to have even a sort
of tenderness for it in her masculine, as she
would have had for any other hard-and-fast limi-
tation Nature had put on him.
"Girls in Angela's mood donH divert" she
said softly ; and there was something in her tone
that impressed Ferris that she knew.
So they went home, a subdued little party —
home to the top of the creaking stairs on Henry
Street, where Beth and Ferris stood for a minute
after Angela had disappeared into the Stygian
blackness shrouding the bottom of the flight.
"It's tragedy, all right," said Beth, soberly,
when she and Ferris turned away. "She's
young, and we know she'll get over it — but she
doesn't know she will, and it's as tragic to her as
if it were the end of everything."
"Oh, she couldn't care so very much for the
fellow — she hardly knew him," Ferris philoso-
phized ; " and she's got the red skirt."
If Ferris could have seen Beth's face in the
darkness of Henry Street, he would have been
sorely puzzled by the expression on it.
Beth had little leisure and almost as little in-
clination for life outside the Ghetto. The people
around her were so absorbingly interesting that
she found the more superficial contact with
people "across the border" savorless and unsatis-
fying. They liked to hear her talk about her
life and her work and her new friends — those
outsiders — but she couldn't talk to them as
she could to Hart Ferris. The Casey s, the
Rubovitzes, Liza, Adam, Hannah Wexsmith, the
Gooches — these were but names to those who
listened ; only to Hart were they more or less
familiar personalities that could be discussed,
not merely talked about. And Beth's mind and
heart were so full of them that she wanted to dis-
cuss them as personalities, not just to tell about
them to persons whose chief interest was in their
poverty, and whose mental attitude seemed to be
that poverty makes of human creatures a world
apart. So Hart Ferris was daily entrenching
himself deeper and deeper, not only in the affec-
tions of little Beth, but in that "thou and thou
only" place in her life and heart which he so
earnestly desired to fill. It was such a busy life,
JUST FOLKS 105
such a wide-reaching heart, that it wasn't easy
to acquire over it complete sovereignty; it
wasn't like the heart of a girl with nothing to
think of but love and her lover. But Ferris was
beginning to see how much more glorious the
conquest of it was. For, as he advanced step by
step into Beth's interests (somehow, she seemed
to have jumped into the very heart of his interests
all at once, in her wonderful, woman's way) he
could feel the solid ground of comradeship
beneath his feet. He was making himself ten-
derly necessary to her ; day by day he was enter-
ing further into her life's ramifications ; soon,
he hoped, there would not be a byway, ever so
small, of her ardent interest, which he had not
shared with her. It was a delicious courtship,
and Ferris felt sorry indeed for the men who had
nothing to court in a girl but her fancy for the
way they looked or acted or earned money.
Beth wasn't thinking much, consciously, about
the processes of her love affair. Only she was
finding herself more and more eager to talk
things over with Hart, more and more confident
of the new understanding that would come to
her in the talking over, and more and more
satisfied with his companionship and none other.
They went to the theatre quite frequently —
sometimes to a down-town theatre to see a good
or fairly good play well or fairly well acted, and
sometimes to the By- Joe (Bijou) or the Academy
106 JUST FOLKS
or other West Side theatre to study what West
Side folks like. Ferris was able, through his news-
paper connection, to get passes, except in the
cases of plays doing excellent business, and they
were able to afford themselves a great deal of
pleasure this way. On hot nights, Beth liked
to go to the amusement parks, partly for what she
saw that helped her to understand phases of her
work, and partly for the sheer delight she had
in the crowds, the lights, the music, the dancing,
the diversions. The child-heart in her was inex-
tinguishable, and it kept her soul untainted
by conditions which some call the sordid and the
seamy conditions of life. Beth loved to dance, and
the smooth, shining floors of the dancing pavilions
never failed to tempt her, no matter how many
weary miles her small feet had trudged in the
day's work. A dance was a mental transforma-
tion to her. The puckers came out of her
mind, she said, and left nothing but the joy of
rhythmical motion. After a good dance with
Hart, she could feel herself freed of fret, refreshed,
ready to begin all over again. And he loved
the flushed cheeks and bright eyes of her, the
happy, bubbling, care-free laugh, and the fairy-
light motion of the slender little thing in his
arms. Those were happy midsummer nights ;
no two young lovers in the city had happier.
And coming home, under the friendly stars, was
sweeter still. Ferris was teaching Beth to know
JUST FOLKS 107
the stars, and she was getting much from them
that helped her in the Ghetto.
So Beth was very happy, and her happiness
was one of the things that made her presence
precious in the Nineteenth Ward.
It was not so hard for her to realize that there
might be an important work for her to do beyond
the Ghetto as it was for her to want to do it.
She was familiar with the old, old discussion of
what Hull House has accomplished, and with its
time-honored ending: "Well, aside from what
Hull House has done for the Nineteenth Ward,
just see what it has done for the Lake Shore
Drive !" She knew the principle of great Jane
Addams whom little Beth revered so deeply, the
thing that had brought her to what people are
pleased to call "the slums"; and it was not,
primarily, so much to teach as to learn. If Jane
Addams had been able to communicate the beauty
of her spirit to more of her disciples, there could
never have been any discussion of what Hull
House was worth to the Nineteenth Ward.
But if she had been able so to do, she would not
have been repeating the history of great spirits
who moved greatly toward the world's uplift.
If the doubt of her success had not assailed her
from the outside and if, much more, it had not also
assailed her from within, she would have been
only imperfectly akin to others of her great kind.
It was what she realized of some of Hull House's
108 JUST FOLKS
apparent failures, what she felt, intuitively,
that Miss Addams must feel, that awoke Beth,
finally, to what she called " the claims of the
Lake Shore Drive." For if one remembered
why Miss Addams had come to South Halsted
Street, one could never question her success.
She had come to learn and to attract others
to learn. And the more Beth came to know of the
Nineteenth Ward, the more reason she had to
doubt if any possible benefit to the Nineteenth
Ward could be so great as the benefit of acquaint-
ance with the Nineteenth Ward to dwellers on
the Lake Shore Drive.
That was how she came, finally, to fear that
she was selfish about her new interests ; that she
ought, no doubt, to share her wealth with the
"poor rich." Of actually rich persons she knew
none at all ; but of those rich in leisure and poor
in interest she knew as many as most of us are
obliged to know. And some of these persons
envied her (or thought they did !) her interest
in the Ghetto. They "wanted to help" (of
course they'd put it that way ! Beth thought
impatiently) but "didn't know anybody to do
anything for." The only help they knew how to
give was material, but Beth often needed that.
She soon found, however, that she had to take
these would-be Samaritans on probation as she
took the delinquent children of the Juvenile
Court; to be exceedingly cautious how she
JUST FOLKS 109
allowed these sudden enthusiasts to come into
personal relations with the objects of their chari-
table zest. They did such queer things. And the
Ghettoites, rightly, resented them.
Beth had heard the Samaritans' stories about
the poor who spent on tintypes and phonographs
the money given them for food and overdue rent.
But she knew, too, of the charity organizations
that solicited "pound" donations and distributed
the packages undiscriminatingly along any mean-
looking street — Mary Casey, at a time of partic-
ular hungriness and coldness, having been pre-
sented, by a palpitating young person at the back
door, with a pound of starch.
They usually gave the wrong thing — those
precious enthusiasts-of-a-moment — and they
usually gave it in the wrong way. It was a great
deal easier to keep the two worlds apart and do
"the go-betweening" herself. But that wasn't
helping the world that was probably in most need
One way these Samaritans crowded upon her
was through Ferris. Following humbly in the
beautiful example of Jacob Riis when that
splendid spirit was doing not the least of his
service to humanity through his department of
police news on the New York Sun, Ferris was
rapidly making a local name for himself by his
written accounts of what he learned from Beth.
And as readers began to know that these were
no JUST FOLKS
"really true," there came to be a clamoring of
Samaritans with softened hearts and apparently,
as Ferris said, with softened brains when it came
to having a definite, practical, humanly-loving
idea about helping a brother in distress.
Yet they seemed so genuinely anxious to help,
so sincere in their declarations that it was doing
them a great kindness to let them know where
they could give, that Beth often felt severe com-
punctions at putting their generosity on such
stern probation. But if she didn't, she was nearly
always sorry. For the Samaritans, intoxicated by
the unaccustomed wine of a little gratitude from
fellow-creatures they had helped, usually pro-
ceeded at once to demoralize those fellow-
creatures in an insatiate desire to feel more of
their gratitude, and more, and more, and more.
Then, when they had used every time-honored
method of blunting appreciation and deadening
self-respect and taking the keen edge off desire —
and had succeeded in their efforts — they always
became particularly bitter iconoclasts and par-
ticularly loud promulgators of the doctrine that
"the poor are poor because that's all they deserve
So Beth had to be careful. Few persons under-
stood the poor. Every one seemed to think that
poverty in some mysterious way alters our com-
mon human nature, instead of intensifying it as it
really does. Every one wanted to have an over-
JUST FOLKS in
flowing, maudlin pity for the poor; every one
wanted to "show them how to do"; every one
felt superior to them ; no one ever stood in awe
of their patience, their faith, their fortitude.
But Beth herself was learning deeply of the
poor, and one thing they taught her was often
manifest: she never "gave up," any more. In
any problem involving human nature, she was
always ready to "try again." So she was grow-
ing patient with her Samaritan probationers as
she had learned to be with her delinquent chil-
dren ; for she could see that the Samaritans
needed her patience just as much — sometimes
a good deal more. She didn't mind for herself
the mistakes the Samaritans made, but she
minded them exceedingly for the victims.
"I wonder," she mused one night in talking to
Ferris, "if God means poor people to bear so
much — the brunt of poverty and the burden of
being practice-ground for the awkward Samari-
tanism of the rich ?"
Ferris never felt half as confident of God's
probable purposes as Beth herself, so he did not
venture to guess.
It was thus matters stood when Ferris wrote for
his paper a little story of Angela Ann and the red
One of the letters that came to him (all of
which he duly, as was his wont, turned over to
Beth) was from a woman who said quite frankly
ii2 JUST FOLKS
that she was suffering from melancholia and
that some one had advised, for her cure, an in-
terest in the poor.
"I like her letter," said Beth when she had
read it, "because she has a glimmering of the
right idea ; she feels her need and she thinks she
may get something over here. What I'm tired of
is the attitude of superiority which never imagines
there can be anything here for it to do except
to give. This is one place where 'them that
comes to git, go away richer than them that
comes to give.'"
So, after a few communications by mail, Beth
consented to go and see the woman who wanted
help. She smiled as she went, enjoying this re-
versal of the usual order. It was a time-honored
custom to call on the suppliant poor to see if
they were worthy to receive charity. It was a
little extraordinary to call on the suppliant rich
to see if they were worthy to give charity. The
impertinence and injustice of presuming to decide
in either case made Beth hotly ashamed, many
and many a time. She was ashamed to-
day. Who was she, to decide on a woman's
need ? But when she thought of what might
happen if she gave the Caseys' address to a
woman without trying to find out what the
woman's ideas and puposes were, and leaving
the results to God, " it didn't seem fair to
God," she said.
JUST FOLKS 113
The name of the lady who wanted to get help
through helping was Mrs. Eleanor Brent, and she
lived just off the Lake Shore Drive on one of the
handsome residence streets that run west from
the Drive. The house in which she lived was
elegant, but in no sense palatial. Beth was con-
scious of being glad "it was no worse" (by which
she meant no grander) and then, before she had
time to think much further, the door was opened
and she was ushered in.
As she sat waiting in the drawing-room, her
misgivings grew. The probable effect of this on
Angela Ann, if she should ever be brought here,
was something Beth dared not contemplate. And
then, the sudden transition of some one accus-
tomed to this place, to "the depths of Henry
Street," was an idea sufficiently startling. The
house was one of those that impress a sensitive
stranger as being altars of worship for the god of
Immaculate Cleanliness ; everything in it was of
such exquisite polish and purity and specklessness,
that Beth felt a pang of pity for the woman who
had the dirt and the smells and the disorder of the
Ghetto to endure before she could come into the
companionship she sought.
At this point in her reveries, Mrs. Brent came ;
Beth was startled by her youth and by her beauty,
but startled only momentarily because she had,
somehow, expected something quite different.
In a moment, though, she had forgotten her sur-
ii 4 JUST FOLKS
prise in her interest. Within five minutes she
and Mrs. Brent were confessing, each to the other,
"I thought you'd be a — severe, spinsterly,
middle-aged person, all angles — physically and
conversationally — and that you'd wear a — a
kind of a uniform; be something like a police-
man in petticoats," laughed Eleanor Brent.
Beth had made her laugh almost instantly the
first greetings were over.
"And I," Beth admitted, "thought you'd be —
well, I don't know just what I thought you would
be like. But I didn't think you'd be like you
Mrs. Brent led Beth on to tell of her work, and
she listened with an eager appreciation that made
Beth bring out all her best for this new friend.
(There was no doubt that they were to be
"You are — please let me be quite frank!
— you are the most wonderful thing that has
happened to me in a long time," said Eleanor
Brent, tears shining in her eyes. "And because
I want to 'play fair,' to let you understand
what little there is of me to know, as well as to
enjoy knowing you, I'll tell you why I — why I
must have a new interest in my life."
She was an only child, she said, and had been
brought up with, undoubtedly, too much care.
She was educated abroad, and had had every-
JUST FOLKS 115
thing done for her that love and money and
cultivated tastes can do for a girl. Much was
expected of her and for her. "Then I married,"
she went on, "married when I was twenty-one.
It was a mistake."
The day, in late August, was oppressively hot.
When Beth came into the drawing-room, the
afternoon sun was shining brilliantly. While
Eleanor Brent talked, a gray cloudiness that
might mean rain overcast the sky. It came sud-
denly. One moment the sunshine reflected daz-
zlingly from the polished oaken floors ; the next
moment the corners of the room were full of
shadows and the open windows framed vistas of
" It was like that with me," said Eleanor Brent.
"Just as quickly as that, almost, the shining was
all gone out of my life. I try not to complain,
to make others wretched. I try to think of all
my mercies, and I'm grateful for them. But
gratitude isn't an equivalent for the joy of living !
I want the shine back in my life. I want to ex-
pect things to happen — lovely fairy things that
color the days and make them truly different
one from another. I must get out of this
shadow I've been living in. I must have some-
thing to take me out of myself. It isn't go-
ing to be easy for me, nor for any one who is
good enough to help me. But I don't care how
hard it is for me, if only I can keep up the
n6 JUST FOLKS
struggle. I mustn't let go ; that's all ! I
"You won't !" said little Beth.
The next day, Eleanor Brent called at Maxwell
Street. But before that, something quite won-
derful had happened.
It was six o'clock when Beth got down town.
She had dinner with Ferris, in a modest little
restaurant, and told him the story of her after-
"I never saw anything lovelier to look at,"
said Beth enthusiastically. "She's quite tall
and exquisitely slender and she has a great wealth
of that coppery red hair, and blue, blue eyes, and
a skin like strawberries and cream."
"Rather a startling person for Henry Street,"
commented Ferris, sceptically.
"She £y," Beth admitted. "And it isn't going
to be easy for her to get close to people. Her
sadness is a kind they won't understand. And
they'll see her beauty and feel her culture and
suspect her 'well-to-do-ness,' and she'll seem too
favored of fortune to be sympathetic with the
poor and struggling. I'd give 'most anything
to look like her — 'most anything but the joy
of being little, insignificant me, so unnoticeable
that I might have the fairy cloak of invisibility —
I seem to get into folkses' lives so easily."
"Fairies are never large," Hart reminded her;
"and we don't call them insignificant because
n8 JUST FOLKS
they're small. Personally, I think it's a misfor-
tune for any woman to be over five feet high."
(Beth was just five feet.)
" Well, anyway," said Beth, smiling gratefully
across at him, "I'm 'sure enough puzzled' to
know what possible point of common interest
there can be between Eleanor Brent and Angela
Ann — except clothes, and that's dangerous.
She was so moved by your story of the red skirt !
She wanted to give Angela Ann some clothes of
hers. 'Not fancy things, of course!' she told
me, as if establishing her common-sense thereby,
'but a nice tailored suit and some pretty shirt-
waists and a good hat.' I explained to her why
these wouldn't do — how they'd actually brand
poor Angela in the eyes of all her world, because
every one would know she hadn't earned them and
no one would believe an angel from the Lake
Shore Drive had descended into Henry Street
with them in a tailor's box. Also, I tried to make
clear the probable effects of such elegance on
Angela Ann in the desperate struggle she must
wage to keep good. 'It's hard,' I told her,
'terribly hard, to stand by and see poor little
heroic Angela starving for pretty things and you
with more than you need. You'd love to share
with her, but you can do it only with infinite
discretion ; or else you'll make things worse for
her instead of better. It's like bringing up a
child : selfish parents give a child too much ;
JUST FOLKS 119
unselfish parents try to make it strong to acquire
for itself. You learn a lot of sympathy with
God, ' I told her, 'when you try to act as the agent
of His Providence for any of His children. You
can see, in a feeble way, how hard things must be
for Him who holds all blessings, and life, and
death, in His hands.'"
Ferris had something he must do at the office
that evening, so after they had finished dining,
he put Beth on a Blue Island Avenue car and
went back to work.
The heat was all but intolerable, and the
Ghetto was a Gehenna. Force of habit, presum-
ably, had driven the gasping thousands of Ghetto-
ites into the stifling streets. Certainly, if one
could have measured the oven heat of the blistered
sidewalks with the oven heat of the tenement
rooms, nothing to the advantage of the former
would have been discoverable. Still, every one
had made what effort he could to get out of doors.
Those who could afford the money and muster the
energy had gone to the parks — the free parks
and the "pay" parks, at the latter of which one
may have many hectic delights for a dime,
especially if he be philosopher enough to reflect
that the best of the side-shows is what the barker
exhibits for a lure. (Alas, though ! how much
it costs most of us to feel sure of that.) Others
had gone on trolley rides — in Chicago one may
ride prodigious distances for a nickel — and to the
120 JUST FOLKS
lake, two miles away, and to the public play-
grounds. What the Ghetto might have been like
if these more affluent and more energetic thou-
sands had not betaken themselves beyond its
confines, one dared not try to imagine. For,
as it was, the streets were so thick with humanity
that it seemed a breeze could not have blown
through, had there been any breeze to blow.
The hokey-pokey man, the vendors of water-
melon slices, the dispensers of penny soda-water
and pink pop, did thriving business ; and beer
disappeared like streams in a thirsty desert —
rivers of it ran, and slaked no thirst.
Every door-step, every garbage box, every
curbstone, held its quota of exhausted humanity.
Men, women, and children slept everywhere,
in the most hideously uncomfortable situations
and postures. Nobody wore anything that could
be left off — not in decency, for no one was bother-
ing about decency, but in safety from the not-
zealous nor much-in-evidence police. Flies
swarmed about the big wooden receptacles for
swill, and about the piles of decaying refuse which
careless householders had thrown into the alleys.
The odors of spoiled food filled the heavy air;
for few Ghetto folk had ice, and the least thing
left over from a meal spoiled before the next one.
Beth tried not to think enviously of the room
where Eleanor Brent would presently be sleeping.
She was a sturdy little soldier — was Beth —
JUST FOLKS 121
and having undertaken a campaign in whose issue
she believed, she tried not to complain if it were
arduous or even perilous.
Hannah Wexsmith was sitting in her usual
post on the door-step, close under the sidewalk-
display of Monahan, and with her was Mamie
Gooch, holding her fretting baby and calling out,
now and again, to her little Clarence, who was
playing in the street.
Beth stopped to talk with them a few minutes,
then went on her way up the stairs. On her own
landing she paused ; the Slinskys' kitchen door
was open and Dinah Slinsky was sitting sewing,
close under the light of the small glass lamp on the
kitchen table. One end of the table, which was
covered with brown oil-cloth, was set for a solitary
meal. Jacob Slinsky, in his brush peddling,
went far afield, out of the region of department
stores and corner groceries. The trolleys took
him, at low fare, into the humbler suburbs, and
there he plied from door to door, sometimes
successfully — as often, not. Frequently it was
eight or nine o'clock when he climbed the stairs
after his day's journeying, to eat a supper he was
too tired to enjoy. To-night he was later than
usual, and Dinah felt worried lest he had been
overcome with the day's cruel heat. It was a
constant sorrow to Dinah that her father had to
work so hard ; for Dinah considered him an old
man verging on decrepitude and helplessness,
122 JUST FOLKS
though he was only forty. Jacob himself felt
old. He had married when very young, worked
slavishly hard, and suffered many things. The
years of his life were as if doubled by their
exceeding weight, and it was a common topic
for family wonder and worry what was to become
of them all when Jacob should be too old to work.
Dinah thought of this now as she peered again
and again at the clock face in the dim corner.
Suppose her father had been overcome by the
heat, as so many were, each broiling day ! What
could save them from the fate they dreaded
almost worse than death — the necessity of
having to ask charity ! She looked at her stubby,
deformed hands, and the rebellious tears rose to
her eyes and, brimming over, dripped on to the
coarse garment she was fashioning. Dinah was a
dwarf — not a midget, small, but shapely, but
a squat dwarf. The lack of some necessary
secretion in her thyroid glands had arrested the
growth of her lower limbs, her forearms, her
second and third finger joints. She stood scarcely
higher than the kitchen table, and her broad
little hands which she made so useful, seemed
hardly more articulated than stumps. Dinah's
affliction made her people exceeding sensitive,
and in all Beth's comings and goings, hitherto,
she had never seen into the home where the Slin-
skys secluded themselves in their sorrow.
To-night, she happened by the door just as
JUST FOLKS 123
Dinah's stubby hand was brushing the tears
away. Beth hesitated — longing to comfort,
afraid to venture for fear of being misunderstood.
She could readily understand what the Slinskys
had suffered, and how supersensitive they had
Dinah looked up and saw her, and hastened to
explain away the tears.
"My father is late," she said, in her peculiarly
sweet voice and careful enunciation, "and I am
alone, waiting for him. When he does not come,
I think how if he should be prostrated with heat."
" I know," said Beth, nodding understandingly ;
" I've kept that kind of anxious watch so often
myself. My dear father was in frail health for a
long time before he — went away from us ; and
I used to suffer agonies every minute he was
Dinah's response to this was touching. The
sadness of her situation was two-fold : she felt
set apart by her affliction and she felt further sep-
arated from those around her — even, in a meas-
ure, from her very own — by her yearning for
things far beyond the interests or the understand-
ing of the Ghetto. She was so sure that no one
could comprehend how she felt that she never
tried to make herself understood. But the un-
mistakable breeding in Beth's manner appealed
to Dinah, and the lack of patronage reassured her.
Here was some one to whom she could talk !
I2 4 JUST FOLKS
She asked Beth to come in, and Beth accepted
Dinah's confidence came slowly, at first, as if
feeling its way with great caution ; then, satisfied
of Beth's worthiness to hear, it poured out like
a released flood.
Dinah had graduated from the High School in
June. She was anxious to do something to help
her father — to ease his burden — and to provide
for her own future. But what ? Beth suggested
home work on artificial flowers or on feathers.
She was a little indignant at the way Dinah
repulsed these suggestions. What did Dinah
want to do ? Dinah wanted to be an artist.
With difficulty Beth repressed a gasp. Dinah
got up and went into the "front room," returning
with two framed pictures she had painted. One
was of an ornate Swiss chalet precariously perched
on a steep mountain side above a lake. The
other showed three pink roses in a bright blue
vase. Beth knew little about art, but she thought
the pictures were no worse than the average High
School pupil makes in the drawing class, and
rather remarkable for Dinah to have made with
those stubby fingers.
Thus launched upon the theme dearest to her
heart, Dinah's confidences grew more and more
intimate. Beth was amazed at the soaring am-
bition of this girl, and awe-struck at the thought
of how terrible must be her disappointment.
JUST FOLKS 125
It was staggering to contemplate — the future of
this girl with her affliction and her pride and her
towering desires. Beth could think of nothing to
"You think I cannot — that I am too —
short ?" said Dinah.
" No — no ! " Beth hastened to reply. But her
manner was unconvincing. "What do your par-
ents think ? " she asked.
Dinah's face was a study, and she did not
answer for several moments. Then the amazing
story came out.
"I wonder if you can understand ?" she said.
Beth looked surprised, and Dinah hastened to
explain. Had Beth wondered at the cause of
Dinah's "shortness" ? Confused, Beth tried to
make it seem that she had not. Dinah told what
the doctors — not the neighborhood doctors, but
the great doctors in the hospital clinics — had
said the matter was ; and how for months of
futile effort she had followed their directions and
eaten raw sheep thyroids procured from the stock-
yards at an expense great to the Slinskys and
swallowed with a heroism that taxed Dinah to the
utmost. But only she had hoped for help from
them, so only she was disappointed when they
failed to aid. Her parents — ! Did Beth think
Dinah a strange name for a Jewish girl ? In
school the teachers, accustomed to a world of
Roses and Lilies and Rachels and Sarahs and Idas
126 JUST FOLKS
and Rebeccas, always thought Dinah "a nig-
ger name." Whereunto Dinah explained : her
father's name was Jacob ; and in the Bible,
was not Jacob's daughter named Dinah ? But
— ! Did Beth know what Dinah meant ? It
meant "Judgment." Dinah looked at Beth to
see if she seemed to comprehend. Judgment !
"And your parents knew — ?" asked Beth.
"And they believe — ? "
"Yes ; that I am God's judgment on them for
"Do they — do they think they know what the
wrong is ?"
"No, they cannot tell. Something in their
lives has displeased Jehovah and — I am —
Beth's eyes blazed. " You don't believe that,
do you ?"
Dinah's face changed expression ; the rebellion
faded and the look of the zealot, ardent for immo-
lation, came instead. " ' The fathers,' " she said,
"'have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth
are set on edge.' "
Beth opened her mouth to make quick retort,
then closed it again, on sobering second thought.
This was the supreme tragedy of Dinah ; not
the bonds of poverty nor the bonds of her afflic-
tion, but the bonds of her own belief held her
most cruelly fast in the pit, looking yearningly
JUST FOLKS 127
aloft toward the heights where her ambition
When Eleanor Brent called, next day, Beth
was so full of the story of Dinah she could talk of
" There's the girl for you !" she cried. "Your
obvious cultivation would frighten Angela Ann ;
it will appease the pride of poor Dinah. And oh !
that pride. How you'll long to feed it, for her
present comfort ! And how you'll fear to feed it
for her future peace of mind !"
Beth left Mrs. Brent to talk with Liza while she
went to knock at the Slinskys' door and inquire
with utmost diplomacy if she might bring a
friend to call — a friend to whom she had spoken
of Dinah's paintings — a friend who understood
much more about such things than Beth did.
Liza had, of course, been told about Beth's
visit and had her own opinions about the Slin-
"The idea of anybody holdin' such heathen
doctrines !" she declared. "Them Jews hadn't
ought to have ever come to a up-to-date Christian
country like this where there ain't nobody go in'
t' put up with their outlandish beliefs. I don't
see who ever saddled 'em with such a crazy lot o'
"Moses — mostly," Eleanor suggested.
"Humph!" Liza snorted. "I don't doubt
128 JUST FOLKS
he was a right smart man fer his time. But,
land ! he's been dead a few thousand years an'
the world's a-bin learnin' somethin' ever since
he quit it. I says as much to one o' them Jew
women that was arguin' t' me about their ways
one day. Why, if them Jews was starvin' they
wouldn't touch good Christian meat ; want the
blood all koshered out of it, till 'tain't fit t' sole
shoes with; ain't enough fer 'em to insist on
gittin' cattle killed the bloodiest possible way,
but when they git the meat they soak it in salt-
water for hours till you wouldn' know it from
tripe ! And when she come back at me 'bout
Moses I jest up an' told her. ' Them laws,'
I says, 'may 'a' been all right fer the children o'
Israel in the Wilderness, because look at 'em !
Bein' slaves so long, they was that scurvy an'
low down 'at God had to drive 'em out into the
desert an' let clean air blow on 'em fer forty years,
an' one generation die off an' another come on,
'fore He could let 'em into a decent country.
Seems t' me,' I says, 'I'd have more pride about
me 'n t' act's if I thought them laws was meant
fer me !' But 'tain't no use in yer wastin' wind
on 'em ! They think they know, and that's an
"Most people are positive about their religious
beliefs — if they have any," Eleanor said.
"Not me!" declared Liza, promptly. "I
ain't never been one to haggle about religion."
JUST FOLKS 129
Eleanor repressed a smile. "They don't try
to interfere with any one else's ways, do they ?"
" Well, I should hope not ! Fer of all the crazy
ways, their ways is worst. Why, they dassent t'
strike a match on Satadys, t' light a fire; but
they pay a Gentile child a nickel t' strike it fer
'em, an' then they warm theirselves by it ! And
they dassent take a knife in hand to cut the string
of a passel ; but if you'll undo the passel an'
hand 'em the contents, they'll do most anythin'
with it. It's a sin to ride in a car, Satadys ; but
it ain't no sin t' walk down town an' go t' the
theayter — if ye got the price. Seems that
Moses, not knowin' about theayters, didn'
think t' say nothin' agin 'em." >
Eleanor looked thoughtful. "Well," she said,
" I guess most religions have their inconsistencies ;
or^rather, some of the people who practise them
have. When I was a child I was not allowed
to play anything on the piano, Sundays, but
hymn tunes. After I discovered that a number
of the most pious hymns were set to music from
operas, I always chose those to play and pre-
tended to myself I was playing opera, though
father thought I was playing hymns. And it
was forbidden to study lessons on Sunday. But
when I began to study Greek, I could read the
Greek Testament on Sunday and learn some-
thing without actually breaking the law. I had
130 JUST FOLKS
no better sense of the Christian religion than
that ! "
Liza seemed inclined for further discussion,
but just then Beth came back and said the Slinskys
had asked her to bring her friend in.
The heat had abated by a few degrees, but the
abatement was more perceptible outdoors than
in ; the houses of the Ghetto were like slow-
cooling ovens, and the atmosphere of the Slinskys'
"front room" was pretty bad. But Eleanor's
breeding was exquisite, and if she was discom-
fited by the closeness and the rancid poverty
smell, she gave no sign. Beth noted the keen way
in which Mrs. Slinsky watched Eleanor, as if on
the alert to detect the least evidence of curiosity
or condescension, and to resent it. The little
be-wigged grandmother, who talked only Yiddish,
faded away after one look at the visitors ; Sarah
was not at home; so they were but four in the
Slinskys' room of ceremony, and after a few
moments the conversation settled to an animated
interchange between Eleanor and Dinah with the
other two no more than deeply-interested on-
The paintings were displayed and discussed
gravely. Dinah spoke of her desire to be a
painter, and Eleanor offered what advice she
could regardless, apparently, of any obstacles
like grim poverty and stubby fingers.
Mrs. Slinsky was lost in admiration of her
JUST FOLKS 131
Dinah's cleverness. Beth was as lost in admira-
tion of Eleanor's.
In some turn the conversation took, Eleanor
mentioned Millet. Dinah had heard of him.
Eleanor went on to speak of his pictures, his life,
his ideals, the opposition he had met, what he
stood for in art, in a way not noticeably different
than she might have followed in talking with
others who, like herself, had studied the best
of the Millet pictures, had been to Barbizon,
had read his Life and Letters, and knew the art
history of his day. Dinah was delighted and
even Mrs. Slinsky was appreciative. Eleanor
mentioned Millet's poverty, his sufferings from ill-
health, his struggles to support his large family,
his simple peasant's life, his credo as expressed
in the famous letter to Sensier after the storm of
criticism aroused by "The Man with the Hoe."
To Beth, listening as raptly as any, the poor
"front room" of the Slinskys seemed, suddenly,
a wonderful place transfused with the light of a
great life greatly lived.
Eleanor spoke of Napoleon III and his im-
patience with the fame of Millet; of how the
Emperor exclaimed "Enough ! I am tired hear-
ing of this painter of sabots;" and of how the
Emperor had died, discrowned and dishonored,
while the world's veneration of the painter and the
ideals he stood for grew deeper and more ineradi-
cable with every year.
132 JUST FOLKS
"Israels, too, paints poor people," said Dinah.
Yes, Eleanor had had the honor to meet
Israels, to be in his studio. She owned a pic-
ture of his which she hoped Dinah would come
"There has never been a great painter of the
Ghetto, yet," Eleanor went on, almost as if
musing aloud. "The French peasant has his
Millet and his Breton; the Dutch cottagers
have Blommers; the Dutch fisherfolk their
Israels. But the picturesque city types, espe-
cially those in which all Ghettoes are rich, have
Dinah's face was all alight with tremulous
hope. "I — I should love to paint them," she
said, "but I am so — short."
"Israels is short," said Eleanor, "almost as
short as you are."
"Is he?" cried Dinah. "And he is a Jew,
too ! Not many Jews have been great artists, I
know; but he is."
"There is no reason why Jews shouldn't be,"
Eleanor broke in eagerly; "they're the most po-
etic people on earth, with the most wonderful
That burst of unmistakably real enthusiasm
gave Eleanor a secure place in the Slinsky affec-
"And then," she went on, "you're a Pole,
aren't you ? Think of the heritage you have
JUST FOLKS 133
there ! Why, any one who is a Jew and a Pole
ought to be equal to anything artistic !"
For an instant, Dinah seemed carried away by
the vision offered her. Then her face clouded,
and Eleanor almost winced before the pain in it
as she said : —
"Yes, I have it all in me here," pointing to her
heart, "but only these," holding out her stubby
hands, "to express it with."
No one was able to speak for a moment during
which the light seemed to fade from the dingy
room as from Dinah's face, and the air to be-
come heavy with its habitual woe, its grim
acceptance of "Judgment."
Then Eleanor's voice, speaking very softly,
broke the strained silence. "The reason," she
said, so earnestly that no one could doubt her
intense sincerity, "that I thought you might
become a great artist is that you have so much to
overcome. Great overcoming has been the his-
tory of all great art. It seems, the more you
learn about it, that the first thing God does,
when He wants anybody to be great, is to fill
that person's way with apparently insurmount-
"Then you think — ?" whispered Dinah,
afraid to breathe it aloud.
"I feel quite sure God must have meant you
to do something unusually fine, or He wouldn't
have made you as you are."
i 3 4 JUST FOLKS
After Eleanor had gone home, radiant with
plans for Dinah's future, Dinah came tapping
very timidly on Liza Allen's kitchen door. She
wouldn't come in ; she just wanted to speak to
Beth from the hall — to speak about Mrs. Brent.
"I think," said Dinah, speaking of her new
friend, "she must be a very great lady, because
she made me feel so happy."
Which same, Beth thought, was as good a defi-
nition of great ladyhood as she had ever heard.
It is almost impossible to make a daylight
call unannounced in Henry Street. The out-
posts are legion ; some of them are found to be
even beyond the confines of Henry Street itself,
in a group of marble players on Waller Street or
among a flying squadron of "hitchers" on Blue
Island Avenue. On sight of any stranger whose
destination they know, these lookouts will
either communicate the news to the nearest
member of the household to be visited or, if the
call promises to be of general interest, will dive
down some alley short-cut and deliver the an-
nouncement, avant courier fashion, in kitchen
door or window.
It was well on past mid-afternoon of a swelter-
ing day in early September — when Chicago
usually has its most withering heat — that
Frankie Finnegan shouted at Dewey Casey,
"Yer aunt's comin' !"
It was no secret to any one in Henry Street that
Mary Casey's sisters, and in particular this Mrs.
Foley, disapproved of Casey and seldom visited
the Casey family; and by the time she had
reached the top of the stairs leading down to the
136 JUST FOLKS
Caseys' passageway, Mrs. Foley had a large and
Dewey was watering his garden when the
word came, and the poor, soggy bit of ground
must have been grateful for the rival interest
which withdrew Dewey for a brief space and gave
the yard-square of oozy earth a respite from
Mary thanked her stars that she didn't happen
to be washing, and that the kitchen was fairly
clean and free from litter. The children, even to
baby Annie, were playing in the street when
Frankie shouted his announcement, but they were
in Mrs. Foley's wake, every one, before she reached
her sister's door, and with them was a motley
collection of neighbors under sixteen.
"Come in, Kate !" said Mary. "Sure, I'm
awful glad t' see ye. An' how 've ye bin ?"
"I'm bad, Mamie; I'm tur'ble bad. My
stum'ck won' work at all."
At this interesting beginning the followers
came closer. They included five Caseys, three
Conleys from across the street, several Riordans
(newly moved in upstairs) and an indefinite
number of Russian Jews — the Rubovitzes among
them — from above, and beside, and behind, and
everywhere. The kitchen seemed crowded to
suffocation, the Jews waxing so bold as to stand
under Mrs. Foley's very nose and to handle her
garments with appraising fingers.
JUST FOLKS 137
" Fer th' love o' Heaven ! send off some o'
these Sheenies, can't ye?" Mrs. Foley cried
With no little difficulty Mary chased them out,
but she had to shut the door to keep them at bay.
In a moment the heat became unbearable and the
door had to be opened again, with Johnny and
Midget stationed at the threshold to defy in-
vaders — a situation of which they made the
most, Johnny enforcing his orders with a battered
"Are they always after doin' this way?' 5
asked Mrs. Foley, shooting disdainful glances at
the undisturbed Hebrews.
"Mos'ly," confessed Mary, apologetically.
"Thim Jews has no behavior an' ye can't do
nothin' wid 'em."
"'Tis a fine day whin a Christian body can't
call on her own sister an' tell her troubles, widout
bein' run over wid a pack of Sheenies," observed
Mrs. Foley, who lived beyond the confines of
the Ghetto and felt frank commiseration for her
poor relations. And, just to spite the curious
hovering near the threshold, Mrs. Foley entered
upon no further discussion of her "stum'ck" and
its woes, but plied her sister with questions about
the welfare of the Caseys until Mollie who had
been dispatched for beer, returned with her
pitcher, and hospitality began in earnest.
"Is he workin' ? " inquired the guest.
138 JUST FOLKS
"Off V on, but not stiddy. Seem like theer's
no wither that's rale good fer cuttin' stone —
winters 'tis too cold, an' springs 'tis too wet, an'
summers 'tis too warm. I'm after tellin' Johnny,
here, whin he go t' work, t' take up wid a trade
that's indoors, so he kin git on in all withers."
"Is he drinkin' much ?"
"Not much. He do be havin' his drinks ivry
day, an' avenin's he bring min in here t' play
cards an' have theer beer. But sure ye can't
ixpict annythin' else. I niver see a man that was
dif'runt — they all have th' failin'. But it's
not the drink I'd mind so much, if he was just
stiddy. I tell ye, Kate, ye kin stan' most anny-
thin' if theer stiddy an' got ambition t' git on.
An' that's what he ain't niver had."
The moral tone of Mrs. Casey's reflections was
a disappointment to the Jews. They hearkened
to a little of it, then melted reluctantly away.
Even the Caseys found it familiarly dull and
straggled off one by one to other pursuits —
Dewey to carry another dipper of water to his
drenched garden in the hope of accelerating the
peach crop expected from five pits, now a week
planted with no visible results in spite of zealous
i "Whin 'tis not wan t'ing 'tis another," ob-
served Mrs. Foley, sententiously. "Ye t'ink if
yer man'd be stiddy ye'd be a' right. But my
man's stiddy, an' I'm goin' t' be outs wid 'im."
JUST FOLKS 139
"Fer th' love o' Hivin ! Why ?" cried Mary.
" 'Count o' me bein' sick s' much. He says he's
tired of it. 'It's "hidache" here, an' "me stum-
'ck" there, an' midecine an' doctor bills ivry-
wheer,' he says, 'an' I wish ye'd die an' be done
wid it,' he says."
Mrs. Foley's tears fell as she told her sad tale
— big briny drops that rolled slowly down her
shrunken cheeks and splashed on the scrawny
hands folded passively in her lap.
Mollie and baby Annie stared, wide-eyed;
even the baby seemed to sense the scene as un-
usual, and Mollie was quite wisely aware that it
was no ordinary day when her Aunt Kate came
to their kitchen to cry.
For Aunt Kate's husband was a stationary
engineer who earned his $75 a month and held
his head very high, notwithstanding Pa Casey's
reminders, on those infrequent occasions when he
had the chance, that " stone-cuttin' be worth a
hundred an' twinty a month agin a man that kin
do it 'd work ivry day." The Foleys lived in a
flat on West Lake Street, and had a front parlor
with a "stuffed suit" and a patent rocker and a
mantel-shelf shrouded in a voluminous purple
"drape" and burdened with innumerable fancy
cups and vases secured with trading stamps or
given with pounds of tea.
On rare occasions the Casey children had been
taken to call at this swell establishment, but it
i 4 o JUST FOLKS
could not truthfully be said that they were
ever encouraged to make free with their rich rela-
There were no children in the Foley flat —
only highly-colored "enlargements," in plush and
gilt frames, of children's photographs : little
girls in much Hamburg edging and wide sashes,
and little boys in enormous Fauntleroy collars
and queer little Derby hats. The children were
all in Calvary, whither most of them (there had
been ten) had gone even before the days of sashes
and stiff hats.
Doubtless it was because she had so little else
to do that Mrs. Foley — like other idle rich —
found so much time to be sick. Mary Casey was
certainly not less broken down and ailing, but
had no time to remember the fact. If Casey had
wished her dead, she would have felt no surprise.
Indeed, he had more than once tried to assist her
speedily out of the world by violence; but she
laid the offence, with all his others, to that fatal
lack of ambition which was the curse of their lives.
But that Foley should show this hardness of
heart toward his wife's sufferings was a terrible
shock to Mary Casey, who had always envied her
sister Foley's "stiddiness" while sympathizing
with her in the loss of one child after another.
Not for any consideration of income would Mary
have changed places with her sister and lived in
the childless Foley home ; but nevertheless — like
JUST FOLKS 141
most of us — she was inclined to dreams of
what might have been if she could have added
Kate's blessings to her own and dispensed with the
drawbacks of either lot in life.
"Well, now!" she ejaculated as Mrs. Foley
told her tale. "What d' ye t'ink o' that ? Me
always feelin' how aisy ye had it, wid a nice house
an' plinty o' ivrythin' an' no worry o' bein' set
out er havin' the stove took off o' ye er yer word
rayfused t' the groc'ry ! It do go t' show that all
has theer troubles. Now, don't it, Kate?"
Kate nodded a forlorn assent. She had none
of Mary Casey's interest in the philosophy of
trouble. She could only remember that Foley
had wished she would die and have done with her
"An' whin I'm gon' !" she cried, shrill anger
taking the place of despair, "I'll bet I'll not be
cold before he's foun' him some strappin' huzzy
that's not wore out wid his tin childern all in
Calvary — God rist theer souls ! "
"Sure!" Mary's eyes blazed at the thought
of this injustice. "That's mini But I'd fool
him ! I'd git aven wid 'im. Is it a husky guy
he want ? Thin you be that husky guy ! "
A gleam of interest shone in Mrs. Foley's
tear-filled eyes, and her sister went on.
"You take my word, Kate Foley, an' give 'im
what he wants ! Stop doin' yer washin'. He's
will-t'-do; l'ave 'm pay fer a washerwoman fer
i 4 2 JUST FOLKS
ye. An' lay down an' take t'ings aisy. Drink a
couple o' beers ivry day an' put some fat on ye —
I niver see the man that could abide bones.
An' thin buy yersilf some nice dressin' sacks an' go
out on th' Avena an' have some style about ye.
Take car rides, an' see if the air don' hilp yer hid.
An' if it don't, let on like it did. Stop tellin'
'bout yer stum'ck an' yer hid, an' brag 'bout yer
new sacks an' what ye seen an' wheer yer goin'
nixt. 'Tis what his husky guy'd be doin' if you
was in yer grave."
Mrs. Foley dried her eyes. "I b'leeve I will,"
she said, with a self-conscious little giggle.
Mary was deliciously excited. "Got anny
Yes, Mrs. Foley had six dollars ; but it was
"agin th' rint."
"Niver mind th' rint," commanded Mary,
"Pete Foley ain't goin' t' git set out fer no six
dollars. You come right out wid me an' I'll help
ye spind it. Thin, whin Ang'la Ann come home
she'll l'arn ye a shwell new way o' doin' yer hair ;
an' agin ye go home, Pete Foley'll t'ink yer some
husky guy come t' flirt wid 'im, an' be takin'
ye t' shoot th' chutes."
All Kate Foley's doubts fled before this picture
conjured by persuasive eloquence, and she actu-
ally allowed Mollie and Midget to walk hand
in hand with her to Klein's Emporium, Mary
leading the way with wee Annie in her arms.
JUST FOLKS 143
It was so long since the sickly, broken-spirited,
little dyspeptic had taken any interest in personal
adornment that she was far behind Mary in en-
thusiasm for "style," though Mary had not
bought herself a stitch of clothes in unnumbered
years, but wore the grotesque motley of people's
True to feminine nature, the first purchase was
a hat. Mrs. Foley's rusty, black straw sailor
was laid on a counter and the two women and
three children abandoned themselves to the deli-
ciousness of the moment. Mollie and Midget ran
far down the aisles collecting every imaginable
kind of head-gear, which their aunt and mother
successively tried on, then handed back for the
children to perch at rakish angles on their own
unkempt heads while they smirked delightedly at
themselves in the mirrors. Even wee Annie made
the most of this "trying" opportunity — or the
others did for her — and dimpled and smiled
under the brims of hats deemed "swell" for
babies in the Ghetto.
At length Mrs. Foley and her admiring train
agreed upon a confection of pale blue tarletan,
much frilled and shirred, with a drooping effect
of coarse, yellow lace over the brim and a spray of
solferino pink roses about the crown.
"Ooh !" breathed Midget and Mollie, ecstati-
cally, caressing it with tender but dirty fingers.
"Me!" screamed Annie, lurching toward it,
144 JUST FOLKS
entranced, and yelling loudly when it was
snatched from under her grasp and carried off to
the wrapping desk to be done up in a paper bag.
The next purchases were on the same floor, one
was a white shirt-waist, very "peekaboo," and
the other was a kimona sack of gay-colored
lawn, with bands of turkey red.
"He do love rid," Mrs. Foley murmured as she
On the main floor they bought a red neck ribbon
and a red tulle bow. Then Mrs. Foley was for
stopping, but Mary Casey was intoxicated and
there was no halting her till the six dollars were
gone. Not since she was married had she assisted
at the spending of so much money "at wan
She paused at the jewelry counter, transfixed
with delight, a queer, pathetic figure with her
stained, bedrabbled brown skirt six inches too
short in front and nearly as much sundered from
her bulging gray flannel waist at the belt behind.
She was bareheaded, with her wisp of dark hair
screwed into a hard little knot like a butternut
and "skewered" with a huge spike of a steel
hairpin from which the blacking had long since
"Look !" she cried joyously, holding out a
long chain of blue beads. "Thim's swell, Kate,"
she tempted, "thim's awful swell. I'm after
seein' all the high-steppers wearin' 'em, wid a fan
JUST FOLKS 145
'tached to th' ind ! Ye got to stip high for Pete
Foley — if ye don't, some wan ilse will."
So the beads were bought — also a fan made
of cloth roses that closed to simulate a bouquet.
It seemed to Kate Foley then that there was
nothing more for money to buy, but Mary Casey
was not so minded. The crowning extravagance,
marking the "swell" that was-to-be, was near the
door, on the way out. Mrs. Foley balked ; this
was going too far. But Mary held out, her eyes
shining with excitement.
"They all do," she whispered, "th' min are
great after it." And a bottle of cheap but power-
ful perfume was added to the pile of purchases.
Then the homeward march began.
It was half-past five when they reached Henry
Street, where their appearance, bundle-laden, was
the signal for the gathering of a crowd.
Down the long flight of rickety stairs they went
single file, and along the dark, narrow passageway
between their tenement and the next, the proces-
sion following. The Caseys had disdain for the
rabble, as became persons so splendidly con-
nected, but they had no wish to disperse it;
for what's the value of splendor if there's no one
to envy you ?
One by one the things were unwrapped and
spread in overpowering array on the kitchen
"Ye mus' go home in 'em," Mary commanded.
146 JUST FOLKS
"Agin Ang'la Ann come she'll be showin' ye a lot.
She's tur'ble quick at style, an' she see a lot;
fer thim girls wheer she work is dredful dressy —
'cordin' t' what she say."
Angela Ann came in at half-past six and viewed
with astonishment the purchases.
"Yer aunt," said Mary, "have been frettin'
hersilf sick over the childern all bein' took an'
her stum'ck actin' quare-like. An' I've told 'er
what she nade is t' spunk up an' enjoy life an'
l'ave off grievin'. So she 've bought some new
t'ings fer t' spruce hersilf wid an' surprise yer
"Sure," Angela Ann agreed, comprehendingly.
"Ain't I always tellin' ye a person have got t'
dress fer min ? I b'leeve Pa'd git a hustle on 'im
if you spruced up an' made 'im !"
Mary sighed. "'Tain't the same," she said.
"'Tis nothin' t' yer pa how I look. Yer aunt
Kate'll have a playsure in givin' her man this
nice surprise, because he's stiddy an'll apprayciate
it. But yer pa ain't like him. He ain't got no
ambition t' git on, an' it's nothin' t' him how I
All this, as doubtless Mary intended, was send-
ing Pete Foley's stock steadily up with Mrs.
Kate, already beginning to wear the airs of a
woman whose charms are her tower of strength.
Angela Ann took down her aunt's coarse, oily
hair and built her a pompadour of dimensions as
JUST FOLKS 147
towering as the lack of "rats" would permit.
Then the peekaboo waist was donned and the
scarlet neck ribbon tied behind, the tulle bow
pinned on in front. Beads and fan were adjusted,
and Mrs. Foley's handkerchief was soaked in
cologne, and the new hat put on.
Mary surveyed the results with beaming pride.
"My land !" she cried, ecstatically, "ye look fer
all the world like Mis' Patter Pammer in the Sunda'
The small children accompanied their resplen-
dent relative to the car ; Angela Ann stayed be-
hind and indulged in bitter observations to her
"Pm sick an' tired o' the way we have t' do,"
she said — the prospect of her aunt's dramatic
home-coming making her sore with envy.
"I know," soothed Mary. "But whin I t'ink
o' yer aunt's nice house wid niver a child in it,
'tain't me that'd trade places wid 'er."
"Well, / would!" cried Angela. "We got
too many kids around here an' that's why we
can't never git along. I'm tired o' havin'
everythin' I earn et off o' me an' never a cent t' git
me a decent t'ing wid !"
Mary's face was a study. She had no reply
ready, as she usually had, but seemed to be strug-
gling to say something that was difficult to say.
Angela Ann, in her bitter self-absorption, did not
notice her mother ; and Mary, suddenly weak in
148 JUST FOLKS
the knees, went into her bedroom and sat down
on the edge of her bed.
When she reappeared thence, in a few moments,
she began a new conversation on quite different
lines. It was intended to cheer up Angela — but
Angela refused to be cheered.
After supper that night, Mary went over to
Maxwell Street. Beth was not in, and Liza
was entertaining Adam Spear, so that Mary did
not feel welcome to wait. She asked if Liza
knew where Miss Tully was, and Liza said she
thought Beth was at that small Settlement not
far away to which, one evening a week, her pro-
bation boys came to report to her. So Mary
walked over in the direction of the Settlement and
waited for Beth to come out.
It was one of those muggy nights when the
Ghetto streets swarm so thickly with humanity
that even one who is used to the sight can never
get through asking himself what America is to
do with these hordes on hordes of people
increasing so rapidly, by immigration and by
births, that their numbers make the brain whirl.
Beth had been coping all evening — as, indeed,
she coped all the time — with the results of over-
crowding ; of no place to play, no room at home
to stay in, no decency in the close living quarters,
and she was disheartened with the great, big,
JUST FOLKS 149
When she caught sight of Mary, her heart
sank ; for she knew Mary would not have sought
her out except to ask her aid in trouble, and it
seemed to-night that she was too discouraged
to hear another woe.
"Well, Mary," she said, trying to speak
cheerily, as they threaded their way through the
swarming streets, "how are things going with
"Pritty fair," Mary answered, "but I got
"'Bout Ang'la for wan t'ing. An' about —
well, all av us, fer another."
"Has Angela quit her job ? "
"No'm, she haven't — yit."
"Is she going to ?"
" I dunno, Miss Tully — I dunno what she'll
do — whin she know — "
Then followed an account of the afternoon, and
of the brief conversation between Angela Ann
and her mother after Aunt Kate had gone.
"Well, it's natural for a young girl to feel
that way. You couldn't expect Angela to appre-
ciate how you feel about your children, or how
much less happiness your sister can get from
her finery than she would have had if her babies
"No," said Mary, eagerly, "that's just it —
ISO JUST FOLKS
she can't understan' — an' so — I dunno what-
iver she'll do whin she have t' know — "
"Know what ?"
"About th' — th' new wan — "
"Th' new wan that's comin' — "
" Yis — "
"I know how ye feel, Miss Tully," Mary
pleaded, "but ye don't understan'. Ye've niver
had wan o' yer own. I know theer's too manny
av us now, be some folks' way o' countin'; I
know we've not enough fer thim we have to ate ;
I do fale bad-like fer the poor little t'ing that be
comin' into a hard world widout askin' t' come.
But if it fale like I do, it'll be glad it come —
glad of all it have to suffer to stay here —
ivry time it hold a little child av its own in its
arms. I ain't had much happiness, be your way
o' t'inkin', Miss Tully, but whin I look back
an' misure it all up, I wouldn' trade me hard life
wid its baby fingers clutchin' at me brist, fer the
aisiest single life anny woman iver lived. An'
I can't be sorry 'bout the new wan. I know we'll
git along, some way. An' him ! You wouldn'
belave ! He's that pleased-like, an' he talk
lovely 'bout what he's goin' t' do fer it. I
wouldn' be su'prised if 'twas the makin' of him
git a stiddy job !"
JUST FOLKS 151
"I suppose," said Beth, repeating this as best
she could to Eleanor, next day, "that hope must
be always and always renewing itself — especially
in Henry Street — or life couldn't go on. And
every new baby is a new hope, a new channel
through which happiness may come. I suppose
that is why God sends them so freely to the
Ghetto — where they have to have some thing
to look forward to ! . . . But oh ! I'm fearful
about Angela Ann, when she knows. A 'new
one' to her, is just one more hungry mouth be-
tween her and what she thinks is happiness."
Eleanor Brent had no considerable amount of
money to dispense, for she had come back to her
parents completely dependent on them, and she
was like most proud young women in like cir-
cumstance : willing to accept far less from them
than she had accepted in her girlhood. In vain
they argued — those doting parents — with this
only child. "It used to seem my right," she
said, "and I took all you gave me without ques-
tion. But now I feel that it's not my right, but
your kindness, and I don't want to tax it any
more than I can help."
This hurt her parents cruelly, but they hoped
it was only a phase and would pass.
Meantime, however, Eleanor had abundance
of what is worth more than money to one with
an interest in the Nineteenth Ward; she had
knowledge of life and of its opportunities, and
influence to help the aspiring toward their hearts'
It was, for instance, a simple matter for her to
get Dinah a free scholarship in the Art Institute.
Then she talked to the Director and to some of
the teachers about Dinah, and sketched vividly
JUST FOLKS 153
and with intense sympathy the background
against which Dinah's life was lived, the pathetic
acceptance of her affliction as " Judgment."
This paved the way beautifully for Dinah, who
found a world of kindliness as well as a world
of inspiration and instruction in the beautiful
gray building on the Lake Front.
The Slinskys would not have taken any money
from Eleanor, but they were easily persuaded to
accept the free scholarship for Dinah, when Elea-
nor explained to them how money was set aside
in every enlightened municipality — and always
has been, these many centuries — for the educa-
tion of its talented youth. "For it has almost
never happened," she went on, "that the children
of parents who could afford to pay were the chil-
dren with the divine gifts. Nearly every great
artist was born in poverty; and do you know
what ? The rich and splendid persons who
helped them to get education, would have been
forgotten long ago, but for that one act. All we
know about some of the richest and most splendid
personages that ever lived is that they helped
such and such an artist ! If the artists hadn't
allowed them to help, they'd never have been
heard of at all. If Dinah becomes a great
painter, like Israels, she can give the Art Institute
in glory, ten thousand times as much as it gives
her in lessons."
Seeing it thus, the Slinskys consented.
154 JUST FOLKS
Then there was Abe. He was anxious to be-
come a civil engineer, but afraid he could not
because he might have to work on Saturdays.
He thought that probably he would have to be a
teacher instead. Eleanor took him to see a man
she knew who was a civil engineer. This man
was enthusiastically in love with his profession
and, talking with him, Abe's ardor for it grew by
leaps and bounds. But on the homeward way
he told Eleanor he could see he must not think
of being an engineer, " for how, on the plains or
such places where I should work, could I get food
according to the Law, or properly observe my
The inflexibility of Abe was a wonder to
Eleanor. He wanted to get on; he had more
ambition than his father. Jacob could never
have known any struggle about a profession, for
Jacob had only one great purpose in life — the
strict observance of his religious duties ; he
could never have thought twice about a means
of livelihood which would interfere with them.
But Jacob's son was American born, and had gone
to American public schools. The atmosphere he
breathed was full of independence, of individual-
ism, of the ardor for success. Not only every
American boy Abe knew, but every Jewish
boy, was determined to make his life a big ad-
vance, in worldly prosperity, upon his father's
life. Abe had all this desire to succeed, but he
JUST FOLKS 155
had a rigidity of Hebraic belief which never bent.
Ambition dashed against that rock and made Abe
unhappy ; but the rock showed no signs of erosion.
Eleanor could only marvel at the boy. But when
she grew bitterly impatient with him, she reminded
herself how he, too, was anxious to keep every letter
of the Law, hoping thereby to appease Jehovah.
It wasn't that they hoped by their rigor to
effect Dinah's physical recovery. They had
hoped that once, but the hope was gone, now.
But they must be unremitting in their zeal so as
to move God to lift the curse from their line;
otherwise it might descend, on and on, to future
generations. "The enormous personal responsi-
bility they feel!" said Eleanor to Beth. "No
wonder the Jews are a sad people."
On the other hand, though, there was Sarah.
Sarah was not sad, and orthodoxy troubled Sarah
only as it was imposed upon her, not as she felt
its urgings from within. Sarah was in High
School, too — in first year — but her interests
were not at all scholastic. Sarah was wildly
enamored of the stage. It was only a question of
time when Sarah would leave home ; and doubt-
less she would run away. For the stage is no
respecter of Saturdays, and when Sarah got ready
to go she would either take for granted the
parental objection and go without asking leave,
or would ask leave and, failing to get it, go
anyway. Beth and Eleanor could see this im-
156 JUST FOLKS
pending, after they had talked twice with her.
Obviously, the thing to do for Sarah was to get
her confidence and try to see that when she
went on the stage she should go fortified with
some instruction and good advice and get into
a company where the general tone would tend
to help her up instead of down.
All this was a large contract for Eleanor, but
she went at it with a will. She could do little
for Abe; there was a struggle for which she
could have no sympathy, respect it as she must.
No one could do anything for Jacob except to
make his children happy. For himself he asked
nothing but liberty to worship as he must, and
health to keep his family from want. Mrs.
Slinsky continually "spilled tears," as she said,
and was not happy when this melancholy pleasure
was interrupted. What time she was not spil-
ling them over Dinah's affliction, or Sarah's
levity, or her husband's advancing age, or her own
physical ailments, she was spilling them over the
woes of the Jews in Russia. Eleanor made one
or two attempts to cheer Mrs. Slinsky up;
then concluded that to be cheerful was the least
of Mrs. Slinsky's desires. So her efforts nar-
rowed to Dinah and Sarah ; but they were enough
to keep her very busy.
Meanwhile, the wedding which Hart Ferris
thought was "as good as planned" when he found
JUST FOLKS 1 57
Adam Spear, gave Beth — and, through her,
Ferris — several months of anxiety before it came
"I never saw such a coy pair !" Beth declared
impatiently, to Ferris, one evening in October.
"He comes, every night of the world, and 'sets'
on his side of the table, and reads The News to
Liza while she sews. And they argue ! Well —
I guess you know ! you've heard them at it.
Seems to be their chief aim to find something to
fall out about. Last night it was about the
infelicities of the poor lady who is trying to ex-
tract a measly $125,000 a year alimony from her
multi-millionaire husband. They were discussing
her expenditures, as set forth in the day's pro-
ceedings of the divorce case. Liza opined that
the lady was 'a upstart,' but Adam inclined
to think that if her husband's income was a mil-
lion dollars a year, the share she asked for was
very modest. Liza was particularly severe about
the lady's dressmaking bills, as set forth in the
papers. 'A woman don't need to spend no such
sums on her clothes to look nice,' was Liza's
dictum. Adam took the lady's part — which
made Liza mad. She said he ' hadn't no jedg-
ment.' And when Adam saw how mad she was,
he seemed to think it was a jealous rage — which
so complimented him that he went on, trying to
When a woman's fascinatm 9 , 9 he said, 'I
158 JUST FOLKS
b'leeve she ought t' be allowed t' go's fur's she
kin. 'Tain't so durn many fascinatin' women
in this world but what they ought t' be encour-
"'How d'ye know she's fascinatin'?' Liza
"'Well, she's a actress — an' they mostly air,'
said Adam, wisely.
"'Much you know about 'em !' snapped Liza.
"Then Adam lifted one rheumaticky foot off
the floor and laboriously crossed his legs in a
fashion intended to be jaunty, while he assumed
a mysterious air and answered, 'Oh, I dunno ! I
guess most men that's been around a good deal
has had their own experience with actresses —
they're real companionable ladies.'"
Ferris laughed long and loud. "The old
divvil !" he said. "Fancy the 'actresses' he
could have met !"
"Probably mended the trunk-lock of a circus-
ridin' lady, once upon a time," commented Beth
sharply, "but he had a manner like what a friend
of mine calls 'a sure-enough gay Ontario.'"
"Was Liza disturbed ?"
" She was charmed — but she wouldn't show
it for worlds, of course. That's just it ! She's as
'interred' in Adam and as anxious to marry
him, as she can be ! But she won't admit it. And
he's — well, I don't know about Adam, but I
guess he's pretty willing to bring his rheumaticks
JUST FOLKS 1 59
and settle in a permanent seat of authority beside
Liza's stove — but he wants her to feel that it's
an awful responsibility for a 'gay Ontario' like
him to undertake the sober state of matrimony.
And there they are ! Sometimes I don't believe
they'll ever get married !"
Beth's tone was so maternally anxious that
Ferris was convulsed. "The concern those giddy
young lovers give you is delicious," he said.
Beth smiled. "Does seem as if I had to deal
a lot with romance in my 'day's work,' doesn't
it?" she said. " But I suppose I'm only finding
out what a part it plays in 'life as it comes to all.'
I was over at Mary Casey's to-day and found Pa
has been acting unusually bad, even for him.
I'm afraid Angela Ann won't stand it at home
much longer, unless things get better — and I
told Mary so."
" ' I know,' she said. ' I'm t'inkin' that mesilf ,
an' it do worry me mos' t' death. But what kin
I do ? Whin he git so bad I t'ink I kin stan' no
more from him, I haven' no more'n made up my
min' t' l'ave 'im, than he do turn aroun' an' be
that foine, he's like the Lord Mayor o' London !
Sure, it do kape a woman all bewildered-like.'
She's right, I guess ; first and last, the tender
passion do 'kape a woman all bewildered-like,'
and I'm begining to think we must love the
bewilderment — we begin to seek it so early, and
cling to it so late. I guess it's what spices life to
i6o JUST FOLKS
a woman, — clear to the edge of the grave
— yes, and what makes her keen about the
In late October, Adam drew his pension;
and with this lordly sum tied in an emptied to-
bacco-bag, he inaugurated that brilliant, inspired
campaign which brought his forty-five years'
siege of Liza to a close. He disappeared.
For two evenings his place by the stoveward
side of Liza's table with the red-and- white checked
table-cloth, was vacant; and Liza "let on like"
she didn't note the difference. Then her stoicism
"I reckon," she said to Ferris, "you better
see if you can't find out where that old fool has
"That I might possibly have anything else to
do," said Ferris to Beth, "seems never to have
entered Liza's head."
"You might forgive her for that," Beth told
him, "when you reflect how neither does it seem
to have entered her head that you can't go
straight and find him if you choose."
" Instead of which, I haven't the remotest idea
where to look for the old doddeky !"
"Where would a 'fool critter' like Adam go
when he got his pension ? "
"On a 'bust,' I suppose — but, heavens!
there are quite some places in Chicago where
JUST FOLKS 161
they are adept in separating fools from their
money ; and I can't search 'em all ! "
The next evening, Ferris being busy hunting
Adam, and Liza "havin' a fittin'," Beth went
over to Henry Street for a brief call on the
Caseys. There she told about Adam's disap-
pearance and Liza's anxiety.
"Whin a man have got money in his pockets,"
observed Pa, with an experienced air, "he's
more like t' be spindin' it on some young skirt
than savin' it up fer an oF wan."
"That's just what he's doing — beyond a
doubt!" said Beth, severely. "But for Liza's
sake, I wish I knew where he's doing it ! "
"He'll come home whin 'tis all gon'," consoled
Pa — who knew !
"Much comfort that be to a woman — the
poor t'ing !" cried Mary, with hot sympathy.
"Theer's two kin's o' women," said Pa, puffing
his pipe and looking most oracular. "Theer's
thim that min spind theer money on, an' theer's
thim that they go back to whin the money's gon'.
If yer wan kin' o' woman, ye can't be the other,
an' ye might's well make the hist of it !"
"Every good woman would rather be the kind
the men come back to !" said Beth, quickly —
thinking of Mary's comfort for the past, and of
Angela's outlook for the future.
Pa leered unbelievingly. "I guess they all
162 JUST FOLKS
do what they kin !" he said. "An' thim that
fails as fascinators, they turn good."
"That's a fine way for you to talk before your
wife — before Angela ! " cried Beth, hotly.
Pa shrugged — and retired from the con-
versation. But when Beth got up to go, Angela
went with her, "a piece."
"I seen that old Adam Spear," she said, when
they were safely out of the family earshot.
"You did! Where?"
Angela hesitated. "I was out last evening"
she said, "wid a fella — "
"With what 'fella'?"
"A fella that's awful struck on me — I met
him up t' the Greek's — "
"I ain' goin' t' take no clo'es off'n him,"
Angela hastened to explain, "but — you heard
what Pa said ! I ain' goin' t' do no wrong, but I
got t' have some fun, an' I'll l'ave 'em spind theer
money on me if they want to."
Beth made a mental note of this confidential
outburst for immediate action the minute she
got Liza's difficulties settled.
"Where did you see Adam Spear?" she
questioned, seeming to ignore Angela's intentions.
"On Madison Street, in a — in a palm garden."
" I didn' drink nothin'. It was wan o' thim that
has a vaudeville show, an' I was on'y lookin'.
JUST FOLKS 163
Now, if you go an tell ma, I'm goin' t' run away.
But if you don't, I'll tell you wheer it was.
He had a girl wid him an' was buyin' beers fer her.
Mebbe he might be theer agin."
"Will you go there now and show me the
Yes, Angela would. So they went to Maxwell
Street and got Liza, who was crying softly
over her sewing when they went in.
"The durned ol' fool !" she said, wiping her
eyes on her apron, when Beth told her.
Angela "showed the place," and Liza went in
alone. No, she hadn't "never been in no palm
garden before, but that didn't matter none" —
if Adam Spear was there, she'd find him, and if
he wasn't, she didn't " fear no other fella's
Beth and Angela waited outside — walking
up and down, a little distance away, so as not
to attract attention. In a few minutes they saw
Liza come out — with Adam, holding on to him
with a determined clutch.
"Let's go home a different way," said Beth;
"they won't miss us."
Two evenings later, Adam was permanently
installed by Liza's stove, and had so far recovered
from the sheepishness immediately succeeding
his capture, as to be a bit swaggering about his
adventure — to Liza's unconcealed delight !
In the Casey kitchen, shrouded in the gloom
of a late November afternoon, Midget and Mollie
Casey were " playin' school " with Rachel and
Rosie Rubovitz. It had been a sodden, rainy
day, and the air was full of chill dampness. On
the kitchen floor, and scarcely distinguishable
from it in color, rolled Abey Rubovitz, hero of
the pure-milk crusade ; and about him, in a nice,
anxious, motherly way, toddled wee Annie Casey,
"mindin'" him with all the superiority of her
two and a half years.
One lid of the big cook-stove was off, and from
the hole protruded a long piece of rotten sidewalk
plank, evidently acquired by Johnny from some
place where a new wooden walk was being laid,
and as evidently not chopped by Johnny into
stove-lengths, as directed by his ma. In her
mother's absence, Midget had replenished the
fire with this stick, which she could neither break
nor poke into the stove, and it stuck out,
smoldering and giving forth a depressing odor.
The school was not going well. Mollie was
"bein' teacher," and the Rubovitzes declared
she gave Midget the littlest and easiest words
JUST FOLKS 165
and sums, to keep her at the head of the class —
which, truth to tell, was a novel place for Midget.
Protest against Mollie's despotic rule having
failed, the Rubovitzes took another tack.
"Id's cold by your house," said Rachel,
looking scornfully at the smoldering sidewalk.
"I bet yourn's colder," answered Mollie
with chill dignity, going to the stove and trying in
vain to poke the plank in far enough to admit
of the lid's going on.
"It aind't, iss it, Rachel?" Rosie chimed
in shrilly. "Ve got two stoves goin' !"
"I niver seen 'em," said Mollie, tauntingly.
"Ve joost a new von fer our frondt room got,"
cried Rachel, waxing in her excitement more
Yiddish than usual.
Mollie and Midget looked at each other.
There was sad, shamed silence for a second, but
for a second only. Then, "We're goin' t' git
wan fer our front room, too," said Mollie, bravely.
"Ah, you ain' got no furn'ture by your frondt
room," reminded Rosie.
"But we're fixin' t' git it — better'n yourn,
too," answered Midget, coming to Mollie's
Rachel and Rosie didn't take any stock in what
the Caseys were "fixin"' to do; the Caseys were
always and always "fixin"' to do something and
never doing it. But children think less of that
than do other people ; for are not they them-
166 JUST FOLKS
selves always doing the same ? So Rachel's
retort passed this point by. "Anyway," she
said, "ve am' got no brudder by de bad boys'
vorkhouse, like you got ! An' my pa an' my
ma says, s'posin' our Herman was like your
Mikey, dey vould vish to be dead first."
"Our Mikey's all right, an' you can just l'ave
'im be!" cried Mollie, angrily. "We'd ruther
have 'im be in de bean house than have him be
a Sheeny ! "
"Sure we would !" echoed Midget, dutifully.
"Rachel," saidRosie, "ve should to go home."
"G'wan !" jeered Mollie, "that's like a Sheeny.
Irish'd stay an' fight."
"Micks is cheap fightin' peoples, an' you got
nodding ! Jewss is fer peace und gettin' along.
Come, Rosie." And snatching the astonished
Abey off the floor, she took her leave, slamming
the door behind her.
"I'll pay thim fer that — fer what they said
about our Mikey," declared Mollie, ready to
cry with rage.
"Ah," comforted Midget, philosophically, "wot
do we care wot Sheenies say ? What I'm carin'
'bout is, will Aunt Maggie lind Ma a half a dollar
to buy us some supper wid ? Here she come
now," she finished, as footsteps were heard out-
side the back door. But an instant later a loud
knock on the door startled them both.
Mollie went to the door and opened it. When
JUST FOLKS 167
she saw who was there, an expression of frank
disgust came over her shrewd little face. "Ma
ain't to home," she said, without waiting for the
man to speak.
The man viewed Mollie with no more favor
than she eyed him with. "Well," he said inso-
lently, " I ain't callin' on yer ma ! Didn' she
leave no money fer the stove ?"
Mollie, who was holding the door only partly
open and standing staunchly in the breach, cast
one anxious look behind her as if to measure the
chances of the stove's "bein' took" against her
protest. "No," she said, " she didn'."
There was nothing apologetic in Mollie's tone
or manner; rather was it resentful. The stove
man was mad. "You haven' paid in three
weeks," he said sharply, "an' my instructions is
to git paymint to-day er git the stove."
Midget began to cry. "Shut up, you!"
Mollie ordered, looking at her scathingly. Then
she turned again to the man. "How kin we pay
wot we ain't got ?" she demanded of him.
"That's no business o' mine," he retorted.
"My instructions is t' git — "
"You said it wanst, an' wanst is enough,"
Mollie interrupted impudently.
"Mollie, don't sass 'im!" pleaded Midget,
tugging fearfully at her belligerent sister's elbow.
The collector for a Blue Island Avenue
emporium that sold furniture and stoves "be aisy
168 JUST FOLKS
paymints" had had a hard day; everywhere
he went, tramping from back door to back door,
up and down steep, dirty stairs, he had met
with the same story — no work, no money.
Some had entreated him ; some had abused him.
He was callous to both kinds of treatment,
but he was not callous to what the boss would
say when he got back to the store. He didn't
believe all these people were as poor as they said
they were. He believed they were lying to him.
But lying to his boss wouldn't do him any good.
He'd lose his job — that's what! "I bet,"
he charged angrily, "you got money in the
house an' won't pay it !"
"We ain't," shrilled Mollie.
"Ixcipt th' insur'nce," put in Midget.
The collector knew all about the burial insur-
ance of the poor — had, in fact, once been a
collector of that, and often wished now that he
was back at it ; for the poor folk would pay their
insurance money if they could pay anything at
all, even if they had to starve to do it. "I told
ye!" he cried, when Midget mentioned the
But Mollie's scorn knew no bounds. "I bet
you'd take the buryin' money off of us," she al-
most sobbed, "an' l'ave us be buried be the
county — "
"You ain't needin' no fun'ral, that I kin see,"
the man answered unfeelingly. "An' 'twon't do
JUST FOLKS 169
you no good to have a fun'ral that you don' need
an' lose a stove that you do need. You better
gi' me them nickels you got laid by, an' mebbe
when I show 'em to the boss he'll leave you go
another week before he takes the stove. Come,
now, are you goin' t' give 'em to me, or ain't
"We ain't !" said Mollie, promptly.
"Then you kin tell yerma that I'll call to-morrer
fer the las' time."
"To-morrer's Sunday," ventured Midget, catch-
ing gratefully at that saving straw.
"Well, then, Monday; an' if she don't pay
then, I'll have the men here in an hour to take
the stove." And with that he *was gone, into
the black November murk of the oozy yard
and the narrow passageway.
Mollie made a saucy face after him when
the door had closed, but it was the merest
bravado; her poor little mouth was trembling
pitifully at the corners. "I wish Ma'd come,"
she said forlornly, poking again at the smoldering
It was very black in the kitchen now, and
Mollie felt her way to the sink and reached up
for the lamp on the iron bracket. She struck a
match, but the wick wouldn't light; she shook
the glass lamp. "This's impty!" she said.
"Git the oil-can, Midget."
Midget fetched the oil-can from the closet,
i 7 o JUST FOLKS
shaking it as she came. "Not a drop," she said
So Mollie lighted matches and hunted till she
found a bit of candle; she had just set this,
feebly flickering, on the kitchen table, when the
back door opened and Dewey came in. Dewey
had been christened William Francis, but re-
christened, in deference to his warlike proclivi-
ties, after the hero of Manila Bay. In the dim
light, the other children could see something
with him and, knowing Dewey of old, Mollie
promptly asked, "Whose dog?"
"Mine," said Dewey, with a fine proprietary
"Wait till Pa see 'im !" reminded Mollie.
Dewey bridled. "I s'pose ye kin hardly
wait ! " he charged.
"I bet the dog'll l'ave of 'is own will when he
see what kind of a place ye've brought 'im to,"
Dewey looked at the candle and at the side-
walk in the stove. "Wheer's Ma ?" he said.
"Gon' t' Aunt Maggie's t' see won' she lind 'er
a half a dollar fer some supper," Mollie told him.
"I bet she don't," opined Dewey, bitterly.
"I bet she don't neither," agreed Mollie.
And just then the door opened and Mary
Casey came in. Four pairs of childish eyes
turned to her in eager questioning. It was use-
less to ask, but a feeble little question slipped
JUST FOLKS 171
almost unaware from Midget. "Wouldn' she
lind ye nothin' ?" she asked.
Mary was hanging up her shawl and "fas-
cinator" on a hook near the door. "No," she
said, and the children wondered to see her so
dispirited. Mollie and Midget dreaded to tell
her about the stove man.
"Was annybody here?" Mary Casey asked;
she had gone at once to the fire and was over-
hauling it from its foundations.
Mollie looked at Midget and Midget looked
at Mollie. "The Rubovitzes was here," said
Midget. Then, by divine intuition, Mollie
added, "They made shame o' our Mikey — "
Mary Casey straightened up ; her eyes flashed ;
dejection had gone in a twinkling before righteous
ire. "Thim Sheenies !" she said wrathfully.
"If thim little divils comes in here anny more,
I'm goin' t' t'row water on thim — an' if I do,
it'll be the first that iver r'ached thim, I'll bet !"
The children giggled. They enjoyed the thrust
at the Rubovitzes, and they were relieved at their
mother's return to her normal mood; they
weren't used to her despondent.
When she had got the fire burning, Mary set
on a saucepan half full of water, and went into
the pantry and brought out a paper sack that
was nearly empty; in it were about two cup-
fuls of yellow corn meal.
"Oh, Ma!" wailed the children in chorus.
172 JUST. FOLKS
They hated corn-meal mush at any time, but
they hated it for supper most of all.
"Well," she answered them patiently, "what
kin I do ? Unless we wait an' see will Ang'la
Ann git home pritty soon an' bring her wages ?
But she may be havin' t' work late to-night — "
It was Mollie who was struck by a bright
idea. "I know, Ma," she said. "L'ave us
take the insur'nce money ! He won' come fer it
no more to-night, an' ye kin pay it back whin
Ang'la Ann come home."
"Sure," cried Mary, brightening, "I niver
t'ought o' that. Ye've the gran' hid on ye,
Mollie Casey — ye take after yer pa."
She carried the despised and rejected meal
back into the pantry, and down from a high
shelf she brought a handleless, noseless pitcher.
"Thirty-five cints," she said, counting out the
nickels. "Git a little oil — "
"An' a jelly roll !" cried Dewey.
"An' a lemon pie !" begged Midget.
"An' some fried eggs! An' some bologny!"
Mary smiled. "Thim nickels is not rubber"
she said; "they won' stretch over no lemon
pies an' fried eggs. But ye kin buy a jelly roll
— git yisterday's, fer half price — an' some pita-
ties, an' two loaves o' bread fer a nickel — "
"Oh," Mollie begged, "can't we git it frish —
jus' this wanst ?"
JUST FOLKS 173
Mary considered. " If ye do, ye won' have
enough fer bologny," she said. " Well, away
wid ye, an' do the bist ye kin."
Happy, excited, arguing, the children started ;
but at the door Midget hung back, and when
the other two had gone out, she closed the door
after them and stood with her back against it,
looking at her mother with distress in her big,
"What ails ye, child ?" asked Mary.
Midget hesitated a moment. Then, "The
man was here t' c'lect fer the stove," she said,
"an' he's goin' t' take it off of us Monday unless
we pay." And, with that, she opened the door
quickly and went out after the others.
When Midget was gone, her mother stood
staring into the gloom of the kitchen. On her
face was an expression that Midget would not
have understood. Darkness and cold and hun-
ger were familiar to Mary Casey; familiar to
her, too, was the threat of being "set out" for
non-payment of rent and having her "things
took" for failure to meet payments which,
somehow, were never "aisy" except in her buoy-
ant mind at the exciting time of the purchase.
She seldom gave way before any of these things ;
but to-night —
Her attention was attracted by wee Annie
climbing toward the candle on the kitchen
174 JUST FOLKS
table. "No, no, darlin' !" she said, and caught
the little thing up in her arms and held her
tight. "No, no!" repeated Mary, crooningly.
With the child hugged to her breast, she sat
down close by the threatened stove, where now
the damp sidewalk was burning — smoking miser-
ably, it is true, but giving out a little heat.
Annie was cold, and the warmth of her mother's
embrace was grateful, so she lay quiet. And
presently something dropped on Annie's face —
something warm and wet. Baby as she was,
Annie knew; the first thing in this world we
know is tears. She put up a little hand and
touched her mother's rough cheek. "Pitty,
pitty," she said; "nice, nice." Mary caught
up the caressing baby hand and covered it with
kisses. "Nobody know what ye mane t' yer
ma," she whispered to the baby; "no wan —
not avin thim that's been mothers thimsilves,
The back door opened, and for an instant a
man stood framed in the doorway; then he
came inside and closed the door.
"What's the matter wid the light ?" he said.
He seemed cross at finding his home so dark.
"We've no oil," his wife replied.
Pa hung his hat on a peg by the door, took
off his coat and shoes, and drew up a chair pre-
paratory to putting his feet in the oven. "I'm
goin' t' move out o' this shanty," he said in
JUST FOLKS 175
a disgusted tone, "an' git wan wheer there's
"'Twould be all the same," his wife rejoined
wearily; "the gas'd niver be paid — we'd al-
ways be gittin' it took off of us."
Pa said nothing. "Git anny work to-day ?"
Mary asked him presently.
"No, but a man's after tellin' me of a gran'
job I kin get on Monda'."
"Monda'!" cried Mary, bitterly. "To-mor-
rer ! It's been to-morrer, or Monda' or nixt
wake, fer twinty years !"
"Stone-cuttin'," observed Pa, gravely, "have
been a bad trade fer twinty years. What wid
this here new-fangled cimint, art' wid bosses im-
ployin' scabs (which I c'd niver be, though I'd
staarve !), 'tis a bad trade fer anny man."
Mary had been hearing this arraignment of
the stone-cutting industry for twenty years.
"Theer ain' no law," she said now, "compellin'
ye t' cut stone er do nothin'."
Pa's tone as he replied was full of severity.
" Stone-cuttin's me trade," he said with dignity,
"an' I ain' got no caard to no other trade.
You'd have me work at some trade I ain' got
no caard to, I suppose ? Well, I'll not- be a
darty scab fer anny wan ! I got better pride
ner that ! 'Tis agin my princ'ples."
"Pride ?" echoed Mary, scornfully. "Seems
a quare pride whin a man can't support his
176 JUST FOLKS
fam'ly because he's proud — has t' l'ave thim
take charity because he's so proud — has t' sind
his childern t' work the minute they kin lie t'
the law about their ages (an' git quare in the
hid, like poor Mikey, gittin' th' paint-poisonin'
in that wall-paper place whin he was elivin')
because he 've such gran' princ'ples. Seem like
a quare pride in a man that'll l'ave his wife go
to her rilatives t' beg the loan of a half a dollar
to buy supper fer his kids, an' not git it because
her folks say they're tired o' feedin' her loafer!
Quare pride in a man, I call that !"
Pa took this arraignment with a gentle resig-
nation. "'Tain't in Maggie ner Pete Kavanagh
t' understan' me an' my princ'ples," he said.
"No, ner in you, nayther, I'm thinkin'. But
I'm not su'prised. Min wid princ'ples has niver
been understood by theer f am'lies — ner by the
world. The world have always gone haard wid
the best min — have always driven thim t'
drink wid its onfeelin'ness."
"If ye're a sample o' thim, it was aisy drivin',
I bet," was his wife's retort.
Pa smiled good-naturedly at this reference to
his "failin'." "I wish some wan'd drive me up
to a couple o' hot drinks right now," he said.
"I'm that cold, I'm all rheumaticky."
"Ye'll be colder nixt wake," she hastened to
tell him. "The man was here to-day t' take
the stove — it's goin' Monda'."
JUST FOLKS 177
"Tis nothin' of the sort," assured Pa, grandly.
"Nixt wake I'm goin' t' pay the whole balance
on the stove an' see 'bout gittin' wan for the
parlie." And his tone was so confident, his
manner so inspiring that, as he went on and on,
unfolding to Mary what he meant to do "nixt
wake," she fell once more into the easy hope-
fulness that had sustained her for twenty years.
Providence develops in each of its creatures,
great and small, those qualities that they most
need to keep them alive; and in Mary Casey,
Providence had developed hope and patience —
perhaps they are the same thing ! Under the
"hope-begettingness" of Pa's talk, Mary gradu-
ally lost her irony, and by andby, holding the
sleeping child in her lap, she opened her heart
to Pa about the tears that had been wee Annie's
"I was to see Maggie to-day," she said, "an'
she's tur'ble put out wid me, 'count o' the —
the new wan. She wouldn' lind me no money
t' buy supper, not avin whin I promised her I'd
pay it back out o' Ang'la Ann's wages to-morrer.
An' after I was theer, I wint over t' the charity
place wheer they've helped us sometimes, t' see
could the young lady that's there maybe help
me t' git a few little clo'es. An' she says, 'I
mus' say, Mrs. Casey,' she says, 'it's very dis-
couragin'. You wid all the trouble you got —
not able t' kape the sivin childern you got from
178 JUST FOLKS
starvin', an' a new wan comin' — I mus' say it's
very discouragin'.' I dunno if she'll try t' do
annythin' fer me — she seemed tur'ble provoked.
Seem like everybody do be blamin' me, an' I'm
sure whin I t'ink o' what it's comin' to, I ought
t' be weepin' tears o' sorrer fer the poor little
t'ing. But I got that foolish mother heart in
me that kape -singin' wid joy t' think how lovely
it'll be to have a new wan to cuddle an' set store
by. This'll be the tinth time I've known the
feel o' thim little searchin' han's on me brist,
but seems like I niver looked for'ard no more'n I
do now to the t'rill of it. I don' git manny
t'rills in my life — seems kind o' hard folks that
has none o' the pains to bear should grudge me
Pa was indignant. "I'll have none o' theer
baby clo'es !" he cried, "an' none o' Maggie
Kavanagh's adwice ! I intind t' raise this new
wan mesilf. I ain' got a child yit that suit me,
but I'm goin' t' take a han' airly wid this new
wan an' git him started right."
Mary ignored the implied fault with her train-
ing. The candle light was very dim, and in it
the grime and stubble on Pa's face showed
hardly at all ; and his voice had the same Irish
sweetness it had had years before when Pa was
not yet Pa, and had come to court her in her
fine, comfortable home where she was "workin'
out" — to woo her away with his soft words,
JUST FOLKS 179
and the look in his big blue eyes, and the dimples
that played round his mouth when he smiled ;
with his glowing word-pictures of the "little
home" he was going to make for her; with his
blushing hints about the children that might
some day be theirs ; with the awkward caresses
of his big stone-cutter's hands. She had gone
gladly, full of sweet, fluttering hopes — gone
from her comfortable "place" to a home that
was little, indeed, and that grew more and more
squalid as each year went over their heads.
And she had never been sorry for going — not
even in the blackest hours of her children's
want and her husband's insufficiency. Always
something kept her from looking back regretfully
— always something kept her expectant. Per-
haps it was the memory — and the hope — of
those tiny baby hands searching, groping toward
her breast. Perhaps it was the memory — and
the hope — of times like this, when her winsome
Irish lad came back to her for a few tender
moments. . . . She heard the footsteps of the
returning children coming along the board walk,
and as she rose to lay baby Annie on the bed,
she stooped over and kissed Pa and whispered,
" Ye're glad fer the new wan — ain't you, Patsy,
"I am that," he answered her, holding her
cheek for a moment close to his own, "an' I'm
goin' t' do fine by 'im."
i8o JUST FOLKS
Then the door opened and the three children
came trooping noisily in. They dumped their
purchases on the table and began tearing open
the packages. Mary took up the oil-can and
was about to fill the lamp, when her glance fell
on something Mollie was leading by a string.
"Fer the love o' Hiven, what's that?" cried
Pridefully Mollie responded, "'Tis a hin."
"Wheefd ye git it }"
"Off a b'y in the alley, fer tin cints; he said
'twas a fine layer, an' we t'ought it'd be gran'
t' have frish iggs iv'ry day."
Mary was dubious, but she hadn't the heart
to cloud the children's hopefulness. "Well, I
dunno," she said, "but ye kin try. What'd ye
give up t' git it — the jelly roll ?"
"No — the pitaties."
Mary laughed. " Fer the love of !" she cried ;
"ye can't live on bologny an' jelly roll an' a hin
behint the stove."
"Well," said Mollie, with cheerful resignation,
"we couldn' fin' that boy now no more, an' git
the dime back."
"All right — I don' keer; ye kin tie up yer
hin an' see what'll she do t' take the place o'
It was while Mollie was tethering her sorry-
looking fowl to a stove leg that Pa first noticed
Dewey's dog. "Another dog ?" he said. "D'ye
JUST FOLKS 181
ixpict him t' lay too ? Didn' I tell you I'm
tired o' supportin' dogs ? Maybe ye'll tell me
ye bought him fer sausage ?"
Pa's tone was scathing, and, fearing harm to
his pup, Dewey decided to offer him the cold
hospitality of the back yard. "Here, Togo,
Togo," he called sullenly.
"What's that?" cried Pa. "Togo? Togo?
I'll have no dog in my house called Togo ! Thim
Jappynase is haythins — they belave nothin' at
"The Roosians is Sheenies," retorted Dewey,
who waged a perennial war with the "Roosians"
in the street and at school.
"Yer an ignyrammus !" said Pa. "The rale
Roosians is Cath'lics, same's yersilf. These here
Roosians on Hinry Strate was drove out o'
Rossia fer beiri* Sheenies — same's they ought t'
be drove out o' iv'ry place."
"Well," muttered Dewey, "I can't call 'im
no Roosian name, because I can't pernounce
none of 'em."
"You can't, can't you ?" Pa thundered
wrathfully. "Very well, thin — ye kin call him
an Amurican name, I guess. Jarge Washin'ton's
a good enough name fer anny dog, I guess."
"Theer, theer," said Mary, pacifically, cutting
off a piece of bologna, "you take Jarge Wash-
in'ton an' kape out o' the way a bit till yer Pa's
ofHnded princ'ples kin raycover."
182 JUST FOLKS
Dewey took the sausage and was making for
the door with "Jarge" when there came a rap
"Come in !" said Pa. And the visitor came
in. He was a small, withered-looking, oldish
man ; his skin had a curious parchment look
and was almost the shade of his clay-color
derby. He wore a brown plaid suit and a crim-
son crochet tie, and carried a book agent's port-
folio. The little man's movements were brisk,
his manner was breezy.
"Good evening," he said as he came in,
"good evening. Have I," bowing to Pa, "the
honor to address Mr. Casey ?"
Pa admitted that he had. "Won't ye come
in ?" he invited, and set a chair.
"Thank you, sir — thank you ; I will ! And
is this your fine little family, Mr. Casey ?"
"Part of 'em," said Pa ; "the rist's not home
"Well," said the agent, "I'm sure it's a family
for any man to be proud of."
Pa shrugged. "Theer well enough, but theer's
none o' thim as smart as I hoped they would be."
"Ah !" cried the little agent, eagerly, "that's
the proud, ambitious father, Mr. Casey. You
aspire so high for them, it's hard for them to
reach your fond expectations. That's just pre-
cisely why I called, Mr. Casey — just pre-cisely
why I called. I know it's a little late for a busi-
JUST FOLKS 183
ness call, but I always like to catch the gentle-
man of the house when he's at home for supper.
One of your children, Mr. Casey — this one, I
think," laying his hand on Dewey's shoulder,
"sent a postal to the publisher of our glorious
paper, the Daily Mercury, answering an adver-
tisement which said : ' Send a postal, and get a
book telling you how to obtain a grand educa-
"That ain' what it said !" objected Dewey.
"It had a pitcher of battle ships blowin' up, an'
it said, 'Sind a postal an' git a book tellin' all
about the Jappynase war.'"
"So it did !" chirped the agent, "so it did !
I remember ! One of the ads read just that way.
Well, your fine boy, Mr. Casey, sent a postal,
and our publisher says to me, says he: 'You'd
better see that Mr. Casey and tell him about
our wonderful offer. He's evidently a smart
man, or he wouldn't have a boy like that.' You
see, Mr. Casey, we have a new Grand Universal
Cyclopaedia of World Knowledge, in twenty-
seven volumes, giving complete, accurate, au-
thoritative, up-to-date information on twenty-
three thousand subjects. Think of it ! Suppose
you send your boy to a university, Mr. Casey.
What does he get ? At the most, four studies a
year — sixteen studies in a four-years' course —
at the cost of hundreds of dollars — yes, thou-
sands ! Now, for fifty cents down, and fifty
184 JUST FOLKS
cents a week for one little year — think of it !
— we will give him an education in twenty-three
thousand subjects !"
There was no mistaking the eager interest in
Pa's face, and the agent took out his fountain-
pen — for the joy of writing with which in the
presence of his awe-struck family Pa would, had
the agent but known it, have signed any paper
that could have been presented to him. Pa
reached for the pen, but Mary tugged at his
elbow and whispered in his ear. Nodding to her
to reassure her, Pa said to the agent, "Would
it be convanyant t' git the first paymint on
"Certainly, Mr. Casey — most certainly."
Pa looked at Mary as if to shame her for her
doubts, and began the laborious business of
signing his name.
"There !" said the agent, when Pa's cramped
fingers laid the pen carefully down again, "I
hope these little ones appreciate what you have
done for them ! On Monday, Mr. Casey, the
twenty-seven volumes become yours and your
heirs' forever. Henceforth you have but to turn
to them to learn all you wish to know about, — er
— astronomy, Mr. Casey — about — er — geology
— or theology — or about any one of twenty-
three thousand subjects. Good evening to you
all — delighted to have met you. I expect to
hear of a future President Casey, rising to the
JUST FOLKS 185
highest office in the gift of the American people
by his diligent perusal of the Great Univer-
sal Cyclopaedia of World Knowledge. Good
At mention of that future President, Pa shot
a proud look at Mary, as if to see if she com-
prehended what he was doing for the New One.
And after the agent was gone he laid down the
law to his family. By that time Johnny had
come in, and Pa addressed himself to Johnny
and Dewey, ignoring the girls, for whom he felt
an "ixpinsive" education to be unnecessary.
"Now," he said, "ye heard what th' agint said
about th' Prisident. I niver see annythin' in
ayther o' ye, much less in Mikey, that looked t 1
me like a buddin' Prisident ; but I'm after buyin'
this here ixpensive education in the hopes that
some day I may git a son that'll be like me, wid
ambition t' have th' bist or none at all. Mane-
while, though, you two can be learnin' off it.
Soon's it git here, you, Johnny, will begin at
wolume wan, page wan, an' l'arn ye a page
iv'ry night, an' Dewey'll do the same — "
"It'll take about t'ree years to a wolume,"
said Johnny, who was pretty good at figures.
"An' I'll prob'bly die widout knowin' the
ind!" wailed Dewey; "I'll niver git past Pay
Pa's look of scorn was scathing. "O' course
ye can't l'arn iv'rything!" he said. "Who'd
186 JUST FOLKS
wish t' live wid ye if ye did? I don't know
iv'rything mesilf ! But if you Tarn up to Pay
an' Q time you die, ye'll be no slouch — which
is more'n I kin say of ye now. But t' avin t'ings
up a bit, Johnny kin begin at A an' l'arn t' Im
(M), an' you kin begin at Im an' l'arn t' the ind.
Then, betwane ye, whin ye're growed, ye'll
know it all. 'Tis the gran' princ'ple av all labor
t' pick yer job an' stick to 't, an' not meddle
wid no other felly's job whativer. An' in l'arnin',
be all I hear, 'tis just the same. So 'tis you,"
to Johnny, "from A t' Im; an' Dewey from Im
t' the ind o' the book."
"I don't ixpict thim t' do much at it," he
told Mary later, when he had a chance, "but
they might's well be l'arnin' what they kin off
of it till the new wan git so he kin rade. They've
got a start of him," he admitted, "but I bet he
gits caught up wid thim before they know it."
And Mary hadn't the heart to spoil his en-
thusiasm by suggesting that the New One might
be a girl.
Spurred by pride in the new Cyclopaedia, Pa
did get work on Monday; and when he came
home at supper time Monday night, there the
twenty-seven volumes were, stacked upon the
Out of Angela Ann's wages — three dollars
and a half — Mary had restored the insurance
JUST FOLKS 187
nickels, seven of them, and paid fifty cents on
the Cyclopaedia, and with great difficulty managed
to appease the stove collector for a few days with
the payment of one dollar. Then there had
been Sunday's food and a basket of coal, so that
there was not much left, on Monday night, to
face another week with. But when Pa came
home and announced the "gran' job," which
promised to be good for several weeks, the family
spirits rose sky-high, and there was nothing to
mar their enjoyment of the awe-inspiring new
As soon as the supper dishes were cleared
away, Pa set the glass lamp back in the middle
of the table, hunted out A for Johnny and M
for Dewey, and set them to work.
"Aw!" said Dewey, after a few moments of
intense application, while his parents and sisters
looked on admiringly, "this here's some furrin
lang'widge." And he pointed to "Maas, an
affluent of the Rhine," and "Maasin, a seaport
of Leyte," and " Maassen, an Austrian jurist,"
and "Maastricht, a city of the Netherlands."
"Well, wot d'ye t'ink o' dis ?" cried Johnny,
inviting sympathy for himself as he struggled
with "Aalborg, on the south shore of the Lim-
fjord," and "Aard-vark, a burrowing, nocturnal,
insect-eating mammal," and "Abacus, a calculat-
ing machine, occasionally employed to make the
elementary operations of arithmetic palpable."
188 JUST FOLKS
But Pa was inexorable. "Most all l'arnin' is
in furrin tongues," he said. u Sure, anny fool
kin know English, but 'tis t' know what thim
quare furrin words mane that fellies goes t'
On Saturday, when he got his week's pay, Pa
bought a book-case, "be aisy paymints" — a
"mahogany" book-case, smelling quite frankly
of pine through its coats of sanguinary red
paint, the tears of varnish trickling forlornly in
places, as if in mortification at being so poor a
sham. Two dollars had to go "down" for this;
and thereafter the collector would call once in
two weeks for a dollar more, until nine dollars
and sixty-nine cents had been paid.
And that night they had fried eggs and lemon
cream pie for supper; for had not Pa earned
twenty-four dollars that week ?
"Ye see," he said to Johnny and Dewey,
when they went reluctantly to their "iducation,"
"what a man kin do whin he's a scholard.
That's why I want youse t' try an' l'arn all ye
kin, so ye won't have t' work fer no cheap
wages whin yer growed. Fer 'tis much better
t' work a day now an' thin fer four dollars, ner
t' work iv'ry day fer a dollar an' a quarter —
like an Eyetalian. Thim cheap Guineas has
no standin' ; but, wid me ! theer ain' no better
trade in the country ner what stone-cuttin' is !"
But after supper Pa went to O'Shaughnessy's
JUST FOLKS 189
saloon at the corner, to tell the men congregated
there about the "iducation" he was providing
for his boys, and before he came stumbling home
a large hole had been made in his wages. And
by and by, when the "iducation" got to be an
•old story, Pa lost his zest for work, and things
lapsed, presently, into their more habitual state
of pinching poverty.
Those were busy weeks for Beth ; trouble was
rampant in the Ghetto and she seemed to have
her hands full day and night. She was worried
when she heard about Pa being out of work
again and was intending to take the first oppor-
tunity to go over to Henry Street, when word
came to her that confirmed all her worst fears :
"Angela Ann is gon\"
It was Johnny who brought to Beth the news
of Angela Ann's disappearance. He came over
to Maxwell Street before breakfast on a Tuesday
morning in mid-December, and asked to speak
to Beth "private." His agitation was so evident
that at once she scented something beyond the
ordinary run of tragedy in the Casey family;
and setting down the coffee-pot, she withdrew
to the dark hall outside.
Here Johnny told her, in scared whispers,
that Angela Ann had not been home all night;
that his mother was "'most crazy"; and that
she insisted the search for Angela should be
carried on without letting any of the neighbors
know she was gone.
As soon as she could swallow a cup of coffee —
and the depth of woe communicated to Johnny
by his mother was measurable in his refusal to
come in out of the hall or even to take a cup of
coffee if handed out to him there — Beth went
to the stricken household on Henry Street.
They were all in the kitchen, of course, and
every face except baby Annie's was pallid with
fright and streaked with tears.
JUST FOLKS 191
Talking in hushed tones, so that by no chance
might the Rubovitzes or the new Irish tenants up-
stairs overhear, Mary told of her anxiousness as
the evening wore on and Angela did not come ;
of how she had tried not to worry but to assure
herself that Angela was "workin' late"; of
how she had sat up for her girl, after the others
were gone to bed ; of how, as it wore on to mid-
night and past, she had grown sicker and sicker
with fear ; of how she had gone, time and again,
to the corner and waited for a car to come by,
thinking it might bring her ; and of how she had
sat through the long, slow morning hours of
her vigil, until the others of the household woke,
thinking, thinking what to do.
The first thing that could be done, Mary had
already done ; that was to see if by any chance
Angela Ann could have gone to her Aunt Maggie's
to spend the night. At six o'clock Johnny had
been dispatched thither, and presently had
returned thence with no tidings of the lost one.
The next thing was to visit the place of An-
gela's employment and see if she came to work.
If she didn't, and if no word of her came all
day, they would have to consult again in the
"Ye won' lit it git in the papers, will ye?"
Mary pleaded. "Ye'll kape thim off of her,
won't ye ? I'm after tellin' the childern I'll
kill the first wan o' thim that breathe t' a soul
192 JUST FOLKS
we don' know wheer Ang'la Ann is. Agin she
be all right an' come home, it'd go hard wid her
if these Sheenies 'round here knew she was
gon'. People do belave the worst of a girl,
always. I dunno what t' t'ink o' my Ang'la,
but I don' want it t' go hard wid her if she
don' desarve it."
Beth promised about the papers and went,
heavy-hearted, on her way.
That was Delinquent Children's day in Court
and Beth was busy. Cold and gloom outside,
with only cluttered kitchens to go to inside,
trebled the tendency of Ghetto young folk to
misdeeds. One finds it all but impossible to
blame human nature for not being strong in such
conditions ; and so, the hot resentment that flames
out against this wretchedness, directs itself
toward the conditions and, beyond them, toward
any sluggish ease or selfish strife that makes and
keeps them what they are.
Beth was up in the front of the court room,
near the clerk's desk, listening to the defence in
a case she had brought before the Court, when
she saw Mary Casey's shawl-shrouded figure
slip into a back bench and Mary's white, anguish-
stricken face turn toward her with despairing
negation in its look that answered Beth's look
After Court was over, Beth "walked a piece"
with Mary, whose only opportunity to talk
JUST FOLKS 193
confidentially to Beth this was. Johnny's visit
to the place where Angela worked was productive
of "tur'ble bad" news: Angela Ann had "give
notice" on Saturday night, had been "paid
up," and quit.
This made it seem less likely that she had met
with accident or foul play, and more likely that
she had intended to go away. Beth made no
comment to this effect, hoping to spare Mary
the sharper grief ; but Mary saw for herself.
"Sure," she wept softly under her black shawl,
as they walked west in Ewing Street, "I t'ought
it was pritty bad whin I feared she was run over
an' kilt er somethin' like that. But, my God !
a body could stan' that. If she 've wint away
intintional — oh ! she couldn' do that, d'ye
t'ink ? She wint out yistiday mornin' wid a
chune on her lips, a-hummin' as gay as a bird.
She couldn' have done that if she knew she
were goin' t' break my heart — could she ?"
"I don't see how she could," Beth admitted.
"No," said Mary, drying her tears and grasp-
ing hopefully at the idea of death rather than
dishonor; "I don' belave she could. She must
'a' t'ought she had a better job — poor little
t'ing ! — an' didn' want t' tell me 'bout it till
she was sure she had it. Fer she was rale
happy-like on Sunda' — the first she've been
since her Pa got out o' work an' the new wan
194 JUST FOLKS
"Did she know?"
"Sure! I'm after tellin' her a couple o'
wakes back, an' at first she tuck it pritty hard ;
but after that, seemed like she didn' mind so
Beth hadn't the heart to tell Mary her own
belief that Angela Ann had gone away on account
of the New One. And just then, Mary's sister
Maggie caught up with them on her way over
to Mary's to ask for further news.
Beth stayed with them only long enough to
get Mary's decision about telling the police;
and departed with the understanding that if
Angela Ann did not come home to-night for
supper, her disappearance would have to be
reported, though with every possible entreaty
and pressure of influence to keep it out of the
Angela Ann did not come home, and about
eight o'clock Beth went over to the Maxwell
Street Station and reported the case.
"Guess I better go over and see about it,"
said Sergeant Doonan. He mistrusted Beth's
understanding of the situation, feeling sure that
so small a girl was easily hoodwinked. "There's
probably a lot they don't tell you," he went
on, patronizingly, and teased Beth with a laugh-
ing reminder of her experience with the "t'ief"
and the pawn-tickets.
Beth bottled her wrath. She could not find
JUST FOLKS 195
Angela, and in all probability the police could
if they half tried ; so she must keep their in-
"That's right," she said. "Shall I go with
you, or do you think you could get more by going
She was so meek that the Sergeant was sorry
"Oh, you can come along!" he responded
handsomely — thinking, no doubt, what a lesson
in proper methods his interrogation of the
Caseys would be to her.
Henry Street was as dark as Tartarus, and
a shade more dreadful, as they stumbled their
way along its "intermittent sidewalk" as Beth
called it, and down the steep flight of rickety
wooden steps leading to the black passageway.
Beth led the way back to the kitchen door which
Mary opened to her knock.
The kitchen was stifling close. In the bracket
above the sink was the only light, and the
tin reflector, instead of diffusing the lamp
rays, seemed to concentrate them, like a feeble
search light, so that the corners of the kitchen
were all in gloom, and half lost in shadows
were the forms of the grief-stricken Caseys,
whose pallid, tear-streaked faces showed sharply
white against the dusk.
"This," said Beth to Mary, "is Sergeant
Doonan, Mrs. Casey." To her relief and the
196 JUST FOLKS
bitter disappointment of the children, he was
a plain-clothes man.
Nodding a brief recognition of the introduc-
tion, he proceeded at once to business.
"Had any word ?" he asked.
"Niver a word."
"You say she left home Monday morning,
just as usual, to go to work ?"
"And you don't think she intended to stay
Mary's eyes flashed. "If I t'ought a girl
o' mine could walk out an' l'ave me intintional,
wid a chune on her lyin' lips, I'd not be askin'
ye t' find her," she said.
"Did she have a beau ?"
"None that I iver see."
"Didn't she ever talk about any fellow?"
"Oh, sure ! she used t' be after talkin' 'bout
gran' fellies she'd see down town. An' I always
sez to her: 'You mark me words an' l'ave
gran' fellies be. They don' mane no good t'
the likes o' you,' I says. 'Thim fellies spinds
ivry cint they git on theer gol' watches an' swallie-
tails, an' whin they marry they got t' marry a
girl wid money t' support thim. Whin yer old
enough t' take up wid anny wan,' I says, 'yer
pa er yer Uncle Tim'll introjuce ye t' some nice
young lab'rin' man wid a good trade an' ambi-
tion t' git on ; an' you work fer him while he
JUST FOLKS 197
work fer you !' 'Ah, ye don' know nothin' 'bout
it,' she'd say t' me. An', 'Don' you belave that !'
I'd say t' her ; ' I'm nothin' t' look at, an' I ain'
got much style about me, but I got some knowl-
idge o' mm,' I says, 'which God knows I paid
dear t' git,' I says, 'an' they're a bad lot, avin
th' bist o' thim. So you git it out o' yer silly hid
that anny gran' felly's goin' t' marry you er the
likes o' you. Ye may rade such foolishness in
yer story papers er hear it at yer theayters ;
but ye kin mark me words that love is fer tony
folks that kin afford it, an' not fer the likes o'
you an' me.'"
The detective listened judicially. Beth in-
terrupted by neither word nor sign. Casey
kept conspicuously quiet. The children were
awed into an almost breathless silence. Even
Jarge Washin'ton forbore to snuffle or to
pound the floor with his stub of tail. (The
"hin," alas ! had gone on the altar of necessity.
"We can't afford t' kape no hin just t' look at,"
Mary had decided when due trial had been
given of her laying powers. So Nellie, ap-
preciably fattened by her undisputed pickings
from the children's scanty plates, had gone
to the butcher in exchange for a piece of meat ;
which seemed at least one degree less cannibal
than for themselves to eat Nellie.) Beth, not-
ing Jarge and remembering Nellie, was wonder-
ing what difference it would have made in the
198 JUST FOLKS
Sergeant's "methods" if he could have known
"Was she gay at all?" he asked Mary.
"She be a little granehorn, wid no sinse yit,"
the mother of Angela Ann replied. "I'm after
talkin' t' her the whole blissid time about kapin'
straight — as Miss Tully know — an' not l'avin'
'er go out nights. But I dunno ! Whin a girl
have her livin' t' make annywheer she kin find
it, an' her lovin' a good time as all young t'ings
does, an' min bein' what they are, 'tain't her
mother that know fer sure wheer she is or what
At this Pa sat suddenly forward in his chair,
forgetful of the pawn-ticket episode, and others
with the Maxwell Street police ; and the streak
of light from the lamp fell full across his face,
swollen with tears and streaked with the unpro-
tested grime of this awful day during which
he had sat by the kitchen stove and moaned,
"I dunno what I iver done that this t'ing should
'a' happened t' me !"
"She were a good girl !" he said to the de-
tective. "Her ma were awful aisy wid 'er, but
I'm strict, an' I kep' watch o' her."
Mary flashed him a look of scorn. "So far's
we know, she were a good girl," she amended,
still addressing the detective. "But she had
no sinse yit, bein' so young. An' the young
niver belaves the old an' theer wisdom. I
JUST FOLKS 199
don' see how a girl o' mine could go wrong an'
me hatin' it the way I do. But she have more
o' him in her ner o' me, down t' thim same
shifty blue eyes that kin look so swate at ye, an'
God know what divilmint's behint thim !"
Pa smiled in wan coquetry at this charge
against his fascinations, but reiterated in de-
fence of his daughter — and of himself as a
strict parent : —
" She were a good girl ! I seen a piece o' this
world, of'cer, an' I kin till — min like us, we kin
till girls that's merely flightsome from thim
that's gon' t' th' bad. If she's bad, I don' want
ye t' find her. Jes' show me th' felly that lied
t' her, an' I'll kill 'im — but I don' want ye t'
find her. I don' niver want t' set eyes on
her agin if she 've disgraced me."
Beth was grateful to the detective for the un-
tempered scorn with which he treated this
heroic outburst of Pa's. There were more ques-
tions, mostly about Angela Ann's appearance,
the clothes she was wearing when she disap-
peared, how much of her wages she gave her ma,
and the names of any girls she ever went with.
On their way back to Maxwell Street, Beth
told the Sergeant about the red skirt and about
the fellow Angela had met at the Greek's. He
wanted to go at once to Blue Island Avenue
and interview Peter the Greek; but Beth pro-
200 JUST FOLKS
"Try the donor of the red skirt, first," she
pleaded. " If you go to the Greek's, it'll spread
over the neighborhood in an hour that the
police are looking for Angela Ann."
Doonan demurred. "You're tryin' to save
the girl's reputation," he said, "and I'm tryin'
to save the girl."
"You're trying to find the girl," Beth cor-
rected. "There'll be no saving her if she
comes back, or is brought back, and finds
her reputation gone. Try the red-skirt fellow
first — I know how he looks — I'll go with you
and point him out."
So that was where, next morning, the search
for Angela Ann began. An inquiry of the youth
who had given the skirt, as to where Angela
"was workin' now" brought an unmistakably
"I ain't seen 'er in mont's," he said. And
even Doonan believed him.
They went next to the place where Beth had
got Angela a job — the job she had left on
Saturday. Here Beth talked to her acquaint-
ance to whom she had pleaded that Angela
needed the job. To him, under promise of se-
crecy, Beth confided that Angela was gone.
He did what he could to help. He tried to find
out from the other girls what her habits and
associations had been, but with no results that
led to anything but wild-goose chases for Doonan.
JUST FOLKS 201
On his own initiative, Doonan canvassed the
five-cent theatres in the vicinity where Angela
had last worked, and other places where a girl
who had run away from home on more or less
innocent pleasure bent might indulge her first
selfishness. One splendid indulgence to which
Angela had always aspired was what she called
"K lunch," meaning the bakery luncheons
served in many stores throughout the city by a
firm whose name began with K. Doonan watched
these for several days, without results.
It began to seem less and less likely that
Angela had run away, taken another job, and
was testing the joy of keeping her earnings for
herself. For one thing, if she had to pay board,
she could hardly do it and have left over for
pleasures and clothes more than a pittance
which would soon cease to satisfy her. And for
another, the pitfalls were too numerous and too
cunningly laid to leave much hope that Angela
had avoided them. If they could find trace
of one particular fellow, they might reason-
ably conclude that Angela had gone with him.
If they could not, the worst of all possibilities
only was left : she had been trapped by the
powers that prey. Of this latter likelihood
Mary had, fortunately, little or no knowledge.
If she had ever heard of such things, she had
thought of them only as remote dangers. What
she feared most for Angela was what Beth was
202 JUST FOLKS
beginning to wish she dared to hope : that the
girl had gone with some young fellow for whom
she had a feeling of attachment and who had
promised to give her "a good time" and was,
probably, doing it.
The only clews to a possible "beau" were the
admission Angela had made to Beth about a
"fella" she had met up at the Greek's, who had
taken her to the palm garden ; and something
she had said to her Aunt Maggie Kavanagh
about a stylish young man who could not be
asked to the back cellar on Henry Street. Aunt
Maggie, whose husband was a blacksmith, had
offered her own "parlie" for the courting.
"'Bring him here an' l'ave us have a look at
him,' I sez to her. 'Ye kin have th' parlie anny
toime ye want it,' I sez, 'an' if yer 'shamed o'
yer Uncle Tim's brogue, he kin stay in th' shop,
an' I'll talk t' him mesilf,' I sez."
But Angela Ann had not accepted this hand-
some offer, nor had she confided the name of the
young man to Mrs. Kavanagh, who only knew
Angela Ann had assured her he was a gentleman
beyond a doubt, for he had a gold watch and
Fired by this information, which he considered
an important clew, Casey was for carrying it
at once to the police so that they might investi-
gate all young men wearing gold watches and
thereby in due process find the one who knew
JUST FOLKS 203
Angela Ann. But before he could get away
to furnish the detective with this important
information, Mrs. Kavanagh had made some
further suggestions. The chief of these was
touching the advisability of consulting a fortune-
"Thim coppers," she opined, "is no good.
Tim's after radin' a lot about thim in th' paapers,
an' he sez they niver ketch nothin' 't all. He
sint ye a dollar wid me, and sez he, 'You till
thim t' stop foolin' wid coppers an' go t' th'
forchune-teller,' sez he."
"I belave it have more t' do wid what th'
forchune-tellers know than wid what thim
coppers kin foind out," reflected Mary Casey.
"Theer's somet'ing I didn't till th' ditictive,
not knowin' how he'd take it — but the day
befoore Ang'la Ann wint, a quare, wan-eyed
cat kem here. Ivrywheer I wint thot day
she traipsed at me heels, an' all Monday night
whin I was up watchin' fer Ang'la, th' cat was
on th' windie-sill, howlin' what sounded joost
like Aan-g'la, Aan-g'la, Aan-g'la. Now what
dy'e make o' thot ?"
Mrs. Kavanagh had been fumbling in her
plush wrist-bag during this recital. "Say," she
said presently, holding out a very dirty card,
"th' las' night Ang'la Ann was t' our house
she was after l'avin' th' baby play wid her purse,
an' th' baby spilt all th' t'ings out av it. We
2o 4 JUST FOLKS
picked thim up, an' I t'ought we got thim all,
but whin I was clanein' yiste'day, I foun' this
card. It mus' be hers, fer Tim say he niver
see it, an' no more did I."
The card read : —
Dramatic Agent — West Madison Street
"That's him, I bet ye !" cried Casey, excitedly;
"that's th' felly wid th' goP watch an' chain !"
"Wait a minute!" commanded Mrs. Kava-
nagh, impatiently. "Tim sez thot have somet'ing
t' do wid a theaytre.'
"Sure," said Mary Casey, "Ang'la Ann would-
n' be so grane as t' ixpict no theaytre guy t'
marry her ! She'd ought t' know thim niver
marries ; or if they do, they have a wife in ivry
town, loike soldiers an' travellin'-min ! I niver
bin to no theaytre in my life, but I know that
Casey, who had sat apathetically by the stove
ever since gray morning dawned after the frantic
vigil of Monday night, was struggling with the
lacings of his shoes preparatory to setting forth
JUST FOLKS 205
to demolish O. Halberg if he proved his guilt by-
wearing a gold watch and chain.
"Ye kin spend yer dollar on yer wan-eyed cat,"
he said indulgently, "but as fer me, I got t' foind
thot felly thot lied t' me girl."
So the inaction of the past three days was over,
temporarily at least. Casey was bound for O.
Halberg's, and Mrs. Casey and Mrs. Kavanagh
were going to approach some fortune-teller
with the dollar and the tale of the cat. But
first of all Mary must go to the school and take
Johnny out to mind the baby in her absence.
"Now, you be keerful," she adjured Casey as
he made ready to go, "an' don' kill nobody be
mistake. Th' bist way is t' kill nobody at all,"
she continued cautiously.
In spite of this caution, however, there would
have been danger in prospect if Casey had
owned a gun or if he had taken a few drinks.
As it was, he was not a formidable figure when
he presented himself at the number on West
Madison Street, a few doors from Halsted.
There was a pawnshop on the first floor, and
beside it a narrow door, which opened upon a
long flight of wooden stairs rising steeply to
a dark hall, where, by the light of a two-foot gas
burner, Casey could make out the name "O.
Halberg" on one of the dozen doors. The
name was painted on a black tin plate tacked to
a rear door. Casey knocked.
206 JUST FOLKS
"Come in," said a guttural voice.
Entering, Casey saw a man sitting with his
feet on a battered desk; he was reading the
morning paper and smoking a vile cigar. The
walls, kalsomined a kind of ultramarine blue,
but grimed and fouled unspeakably, were hung
with theatrical lithographs depicting thrilling
scenes from plays on the blood-and-thunder
circuit. For the rest, the furnishings were two
wooden chairs, a giant cuspidor, and the desk,
which looked as if it had never been new.
"Have I," said Casey in his grandest manner,
"th' honor t' addriss Mr. O. Halberg ?"
O. Halberg grunted that he had. Then
Casey advanced a step further into the room
and looked about for a sight or trace of Angela
Ann. Nothing could have been more damning
than O. Halberg's gold chain, but in no likelihood
would Angela Ann, by any stretch of courtesy,
have called him young; he was probably fifty, and
not prepossessing from any possible point of view.
"Me name is Casey," ventured the visitor;
"me girl is lost, an' I'm lookin' fer her. We
found this," proffering the dirty card, "an' we
t'ought mebbe you'd know wheer she is."
Casey was proud of the neatness and despatch
of his "ditictive" methods, but more than a little
disappointed to find so soon that he was on the
wrong trail entirely. Mr. Halberg was truly
surprised to be approached with any such
JUST FOLKS 207
query. A great many little silly, stage-struck
girls flocked to see him, of course, and no doubt
some of them got hold of his cards " in the hope
of using them to impress managers," but he had
no recollection of any girl named Casey — none
whatever. And he resumed the reading of his
"I got th' coppers after her," murmured
Casey apologetically, as he took his leave,
"but thim coppers is no good. Ag'in ye want
ditictive work done, ye better do it yersilf."
O. Halberg did not deign to reply, but when
Casey was safely outside he stepped to the door
and locked it. In case the "coppers " came
around, it would be just as well to be "out"
— it would save the coppers some troublesome
In his descent of the steep stairs Casey met
two girls coming up. They were about Angela
Ann's age and were giggling nervously. One of
them held between thumb and finger a quarter-
inch "ad" from a morning paper, offering: —
"High-salaried positions in good road com-
panies to young ladies of pleasing appearance.
O. Halberg, Dramatic Agent, — West Madison
"Ask him if this is the place," said the girl
who appeared to be following the other's lead.
Casey directed them to O. Halberg's door, then
went on his way. A moment later, while he
208 JUST FOLKS
stood on the corner of Halsted Street waiting
for a south-bound car, he saw the girls emerge
from the door by the pawnshop. They passed
him as they went to take an east-bound Madison
Street car on the opposite corner.
"Did ye foind him ?" Casey asked.
"No, he wasn't in."
"That's quare," he said, startled; "he was
there wan minute before."
On his way home Casey dropped in at the
Maxwell Street Station in a free-and-easy manner
he could not have dreamed possible two days ago.
He was so full of his "ditictive" experience
that he felt he must have some one, if only a
copper, to talk it over with. Doonan wasn't in,
so Casey related his recent daring exploit to no
less a personage than the desk sergeant himself.
It was well poor Casey could not hear the desk
sergeant's account of the call after the self-
appointed sleuth had gone on his way.
Mrs. Casey was at home when her husband
got there. Relating her adventures, after she
had listened to his, she said that the fortune-teller,
after accepting the dollar, had asked several
searching questions about the one-eyed cat.
"'Ag'in th' cat come back, yer girl '11 come
home,' she sez t' me."
The days dragged by. There seemed to be
a complete lapse of the stone-cutting industry,
JUST FOLKS 209
so Casey had nothing to take his mind from his
"ditictive" operations, which were interesting
and unexhausting, though expensive in car fare
and unproductive of results.
As time wore on, the poignant horror of
Angela Ann's absence grew mercifully less for
all but Mary Casey. Night after night she
wept the long hours through, until Casey
complained of the depressing effect of her grief,
and she felt constrained to hide it.
"If I could on'y know she were dacintly
dead," was her heart's cry, as better hopes
died in her. "Ag'in a bye l'ave home, he kin
knock around an' pick up a bite here an' a lodgin'
theer, an' be none th' worse fer it. But a girl
bees difl'runt ! Theer 's always thim watchin'
'round thot's riddy t' do her harm."
Meanwhile she lied bravely to the neighbors.
"Angela Ann bees livin' out an' have th' grandes'
place," she told them impressively; "th' lady
she live wid 's after takin' her to Floridy fer to
mind her little bye."
Mary's hope was strong that Christmas would
see the wanderer's return; but the holidays
passed in unrewarded waiting. Casey had per-
force abandoned his search, and worked a day
or two now and then. Though the traces of
really terrible suffering were still in his weak,
winsome face, he had long since forsaken all hope
of Angela Ann's "safety with honor"; and,
210 JUST FOLKS
when it had come to seem unlikely that she
ever would do so, took comfort in vowing that
she should never again darken the door of his
Mary gave over pleading for her girl, in the
interests of family peace, but, more and more the
embodiment of woe as the weeks wore away,
she haunted localities where Angela Ann had
been or might be. Sometimes she had wee
Annie in her arms, but oftener she left her at
Aunt Maggie's, and roamed the streets unham-
pered in her never-ending quest.
Evenings she would say, "I'll be goin' t' yer
aunt's a bit," and slip away into the engulfing
dark, to reappear in the glare of light marking the
entrance to some cheap West Side theatre or
dance hall. Gradually her excursions extended
down town, where she would take up her station
at the door of some place of amusement and
stand watching the pleasure-seekers pour in ;
then turn away and wander aimlessly up and
down the streets for an hour or so before facing
homeward. In some way she heard about
stage doors, and took to haunting them. She
saw many girls of Angela's type, and wondered
sadly if their mothers knew where they were;
but her own girl was not among them. In those
nights on the flaming streets she learned more
about vice than she had ever dreamed of in
all her life, and the world came to seem to
JUST FOLKS 211
her a vast trap set by the bestial for the
Not hunger, nor cold, nor abuse, nor sickness,
nor death, as it came to four of her children, had
driven Mary Casey to anything like the poign-
ancy of feeling that was hers now. Heretofore
she had been patiently dumb under affliction ;
now her spirit cried out in a passion of pain that
called straight upon Almighty God for an an-
swer to its anguished questionings.
With the aid of Casey, she pored over the
sensational papers in search of stories about girls
in trouble, and never a horror happened to an
unidentified girl anywhere but Mary was sure it
was Angela Ann.
Once there was an account of an unknown
young woman found dead on the prairies near
Dunning, the county institution. It was Johnny
who laboriously spelled out this story for her —
Casey having gone to that club of congenial
spirits, O'Shaughnessy's saloon — and at ten
o'clock, when the children were all abed, her
anxieties could brook no more delay. Throwing
a shawl about her head and shoulders, she stole
along the pitchy passageway, up the long flight
of steps to the sidewalk, clutching the torn frag-
ment of newspaper in the hand that held the
shawl together beneath her chin.
It was Saturday night, and the avenue was
still brightly lighted. One or two acquaintances
212 JUST FOLKS
greeted her, but she hurried by with only a nod
and a word. At Harrison and Halsted Streets
and Blue Island Avenue, where three streams of
ceaseless activity converge, there is always a
whirlpool rapids of traffic and humanity, and
there, in a drug store, Mary felt far enough from
her own haunts and all who knew her and Angela
Ann to venture on her errand.
"I want t' tillyphone," she whispered to the
clerk, who pointed impatiently to the booth.
"I dunno how," said Mary, imploringly. "I
want ye t' do it fer me. R'ade that." She
thrust the dirty, crumpled fragment of the even-
ing's yellow journal into his hand.
The young man glanced at it, and then curi-
ously at her. "I've read it," he said.
"Down here, somewheers," said Mary, point-
ing vaguely towards the last paragraph, "it till
wheer she be, an' I want ye t' tillyphone that
place an' ask thim have she a large brown mole
on her lift side. If she have, I'm goin' out theer
this night, for 'tis my girl I t'ink she be."
This was not as startling an episode to the
young man addressed as it might have been to
one in a quieter locality. Nevertheless, it
smacked of the dramatic sufficiently to interest
him, and when Mary proffered her nickel he
called up the Dunning morgue.
After what seemed an interminable wait,
while the sleepy morgue attendant at the county
JUST FOLKS 213
poorhouse was being summoned by repeated
rings, and the brief colloquy was in progress,
the clerk emerged from the booth.
"The girl has been identified this evening,"
Disappointment mingled with relief in Mary's
countenance ; she had reached that stage where
it would have been not altogether unendurable
to look at Angela Ann's dead face, even in a
As she retraced her way home, the chill of the
sharp February night struck into her mercilessly.
When she set forth, she had scarcely noticed it
in her preoccupation ; but now that another
expectation, however tragic, had proved false,
and the situation stretched ahead of her in-
definitely dull and despairing again, the abrupt
relaxation left her physically as well as mentally
"let down," and she shivered violently as she
"Mother o' God," she cried, the tears rolling
swiftly down her shrunken cheeks, "wheer is
my girl this night ? If I could on'y know she
had a roof over her head an' a fire t' kape her
Casey was still out when she got back, and
she was thankful, for the sight of her tears made
him ugly these days. "She 've disgraced us,"
he said of Angela Ann, "an' she be dead t' me,
an' ought t' be t' you, if ye had proper shame."
214 JUST FOLKS
"The new wan" came late in February, and
was a boy. He was to be named Patrick for his
pa. The first child of the family had borne
the name, but he was long since dead ; and now
the New One was to have it and do it honor.
Beth went to see Patrick when he was two
days old, and there was no mistaking the hap-
piness he brought to his family.
Somehow, in all the dire poverty of the win-
ter — Beth had had to intervene more than
once to save the stove from "bein' took" —
the Cyclopaedia remained. The enforced educa-
tional zeal of Johnny and Dewey had lapsed,
and the "aisy paymints" emporium had seized
the sanguinary book-case. But the "wolumes"
were still there, owing to the greater leniency of
the newspaper over the emporium, and to the
fact that whenever they were threatened, Pa
showed such keen regret, such letting down
of his high hopes for the new wan, that Mary
made some sacrifice of food or warmth and kept
the " twinty-sivin " ranged on a rude shelf in
the "front room." The shelf was covered with
lace shelf-paper in three different-colored layers
— red and green and yellow — and was, with
the "wolumes," the chief furnishing of that
chill best room which was to be a "parlie"
some day when Pa's "gran' job" persisted long
On the occasion of Beth's call, Pa — who had
JUST FOLKS 215
all too evidently accepted an unwise number of
toasts to the new wan's health — carried wee
Patsy, shrouded in his ma's black shawl, into
the front room and held him up to view the
"Look at th' l'arnin' yer Pa have laid by fer
ye," he adjured his son. And Patsy blinked,
unmoved by the appalling weight of wisdom
that was apportioned to him.
He was to be christened on Tuesday — this
was Sunday — in the Holy Family Church. His
Aunt Maggie was "after lindin' him a swell
dress t' wear," and there was going to be a
christening party afterwards. Pa was "takin'
special intrust in the christenin'," Mary informed
Beth, "an' is goin' t' carry Patsy t' the church
himself. What's worryin' him now is the god-
parents. He don' want no ordinary ignyram-
muses standin' up fer Patsy that some day
Patsy 'd be ashamed t' own. We thought o'
you, Miss Tully, now, an' that young man o'
yours that write fer the paper. If he could
bring another writer or same wan like that, an'
the three o' ye stan' up fer Patsy, it'd be some-
Beth accepted for herself, and said she thought
she might accept for Mr. Ferris ; about the third
godparent, she didn't know. But she would see
Mr. Ferris this evening and ask him to do what
216 JUST FOLKS
Hart Ferris was willing, as Beth knew he
would be, not only to stand godfather to wee
Patsy, but to look for another — which he had
no difficulty in doing. He mentally passed in
review a number of clever young fellows he
knew who wrote books, and corking good books,
too — but, by Jove ! none of them looked im-
pressive, any more than he himself did. Seemed
as if Patsy ought to have one godparent who
looked like incarnate wisdom, like a walking
Cyclopaedia ! There was one man Ferris knew
who looked like that — he was one of the minor
book reviewers on the paper — but his sense of
humor was rudimentary, and he might not be
appealed to by the prospect of being Patsy's
godfather. When, however, Ferris had broken
the news to him in a way that enlisted his in-
terest and consent, Ferris began to feel that a
mere newspaper job should no longer hold him.
"The real place for me," he told Beth, "is at
the court of Austria, or Germany, or wherever
diplomacy is at its greatest premium to-day."
But, alas ! and alas ! the christening so nobly
planned, and so ably carried out, was destined
to be followed soon by mourning. Poor Patsy
caught cold, in the big, draughty church, and
the cold developed into what the family called
"the ammonia on the lungs," and in two days
after he was christened, wee Patsy was dead,
and there was woe in the house of his kindred.
JUST FOLKS 217
There are people in this world who seem to
think it's comparatively easy to give up a little
tiny baby you've only had a few days — es-
pecially if you have seven other children; but
that's because they don't know how many
hopes are builded about each New One, how
many fair dreams die when the little New One
slips away again. There were people who thought
Patsy's coming and going was just a matter of
"a baby more or less" to the Caseys ; but it
was much, much more than that. It seemed,
somehow, that when he went, the promise of
splendidly better things went, too.
And, what made the going harder still, there
was no money to bury him with ! "Me scrimpin'
and pinchin' t' pay for insur'nce all along,"
wept poor Mary, "an' whin I nade a fun'ral,
'tis fer the wan child that's not insured."
They owned a single grave in Calvary; in it
were the two children that were dead these
many years — little Mamie and little Patsy —
and the law would allow them to put a third
tiny body in with the others. But there was a
coffin to be bought, and an interment fee to be
paid, and somehow or other Patsy must be got
to his burial.
Beth felt unable to help much, unless she
absolutely must. She suggested that Ferris
pass a hat in his office. "'Twouldn't do any
good," he said, "I never knew such a 'broke'
218 JUST FOLKS
bunch. A hat passed there now wouldn't come
back with the lining in — if it was a good lining."
So it was decided to see if the Parish would do
aught for Patsy.
Pa went to the priest who had christened
Patsy, and told of Patsy's death. The priest
was Irish — a big, kindly young fellow who had
been a peasant boy in County Kerry and knew
the sorrows of the poor. He went over to
Henry Street an hour or two afterward, carrying
a tiny white coffin in which he helped to lay
Patsy; and out of the pockets of his overcoat
the priest brought candles for Patsy's head and
feet. They made a bier of two yellow-painted
kitchen chairs, and laid Patsy in his little white
coffin upon it, and lighted the tapers, and the
other children knelt around Patsy, murmuring
their prayers for the repose of his soul. It was
a picture — a great picture : the gloomy front
room where the sunshine never came ; the little
bit of dazzling whiteness in the shadows, that
Patsy's coffin made ; the tall tapers ; the tear-
drenched childish faces ; the awe ; the Mystery.
When he left, the priest said he would see
what he could do about the funeral, and straight
he went to another house in the Nineteenth Ward,
where also a son lay dead and many hopes were
dead with him. It was the house of a powerful
Irish politician and saloon-keeper, and the son
was a young man nineteen years old and the
JUST FOLKS 219
pride of his father's heart — which was, after
the queer fashion of human nature, no less
tender because his conscience was full of callous
spots. The priest told the saloon-keeper about
Patsy, drew for him a sympathetic picture of
the scene he had just left, and —
"Sure, he can come along with my boy,"
said the Boss. "My boy was always one to
share what he had when he was alive, an' I
guess he'd be more'n glad to share his fun'ral —
the last thing I can ever give him."
So, back to Henry Street the priest went, and
told the Caseys that Patsy was to "come along"
in the rich young man's funeral. If Pa would
carry him over to the church in the morning,
before ten, he was welcome to share in the
requiem high mass, and the hundreds of tapers,
and the loads and loads of flowers, and the
grand, expensive singing. He was welcome, too,
to ride to Calvary in the rich young man's
hearse; and there'd be two carriages for the
parents and children to ride in.
When Mary heard this, her tears flowed
afresh. "Poor little Patsy!" she sobbed.
"Seem like he was born t' be lucky, an' he died
before he had a chance t' find it out."
There was one mark of respect she could
show him, though — one manifestation of her
grief she could afford to make : she sent Midget
to Blue Island Avenue with twenty-five cents
220 JUST FOLKS
and instructions to invest it in "th' bist black
dye." And into the wash-tub, on Midget's
return, went the package of dye and several
pails of water and everything belonging to the
Caseys that could, by any stretch of courtesy or
the imagination, be called a garment.
All night the kitchen hung full of coats and
skirts and capes and pinafores, all dripping,
dripping, like Mary's slow, unceasing tears.
And in the morning there issued from the Casey
cellar a procession as sable-solemn as anything
that Henry Street had ever seen.
It was a "gran', imprissive fun'ral" that little
Patsy had. And when the Caseys were at home
again and the neighbors came crowding in to
hear about it, the wash-tub, still half full of dye,
was standing in the corner on the kitchen floor.
"If anny o' you," said Mary, indicating the
tub, "'d like t' use some o' that, yer welcome.
Patsy had a fine fun'ral lint 'im, an' I'm sure
he'd be glad, in 'is turn, t' lind some o' his
Which was how a considerable part of Henry
Street may be said to have gone with the Caseys
into mourning for Patsy.
"Of course," said Beth to Ferris, telling him
about the myriad "mourners," "their motive
was economic, not emotional ; but perhaps it's
not unlike some other mourning garb on that
JUST FOLKS 221
Thus Patsy came and went. The span be-
tween whence we come and whither we go is
brief at best. And Patsy managed to bring
with him a good deal of the tender glory of the
place whence he came, and to take with him a
great deal of new hope of the place whither he
was gone. And, when all is said and done,
what immortal spirit can, in its mortal span,
do more than that for itself or for the rest of
Except with her mother, hope for Angela Ann
had died a lingering death. But with Mary,
her girl that was gone was still the most vital
thing in life.
The first time she came to see Beth after the
New One had come and gone, Mary said, with
an intensity that fairly startled Beth : —
"D'ye know what I'm prayin', now ?"
" Ye'll be shocked wid me — ?"
"Of course I won't ! I couldnH be shocked
They two were together in Beth's little bed-
room, whither Mary felt she must withdraw out
of hearing of Liza and Adam, when she wished
to speak of Angela.
"I'm prayin'," she said, "that Angela'll git
a baby — a little bit o' baby ! Sure, if anny
wan 'd iver toP me I'd pray that about a girl o'
222 JUST FOLKS
mine that's not married, I'd V kilt thim. But
don' ye see ? If she'd git a little baby, wouldn'
it be a lot better fer 'er nor goin' t' th' bad fer
impty plisure ? I seen t'ings since she wint,
Miss Beth, that I niver dreamed of before in all
my life, an' I'm prayin' God t' sind me girl a
baby that'll wake th' bist in 'er an' mebbe t'ach
'er how mothers love an' bring 'er home agin
And for weary weeks thereafter, Mary cher-
ished the hope of Angela Ann coming, trembling,
along the board walk to the kitchen door, with
her baby in her arms ; and the thought of how
surprised she'd be at the gladness of her wel-
come; and the new understanding they would
have, each of the other — she and Angela Ann
— in their common motherhood.
Mary Casey undoubtedly had a great deal
to stand ; but no more than the days of any
other mortal with an inextinguishable zest for
life, were hers without enlivening. On the con-
trary, it was one of the best evidences of Mary's
truly big nature that she never neglected any
opportunity for diversion that came her way.
Beth and Eleanor, talking her over as they
delighted to do for their own deeper instruction
in the wisdom of life, could not sufficiently extol
her elasticity of spirit. But it solved, of course,
what might otherwise have been the problem of
how she kept herself so strong to bear.
Even in the midst of all her suffering over
Angela Ann and her gentler grief for the passing
of Patsy, she had her intervals of comedy relief,
her alternation of smiles with tears. Mary Casey
lived too deeply and truly to miss any essential
element of life. There was nothing more splen-
didly real about her than the way shade and shine
played on each other's heels in her days.
There was, for instance, the relief afforded by
the Riordans, a numerous clan newly moved in
upstairs. Riordan was a piano-mover and his
224 JUST FOLKS
prowess was the pride of his children; he had
dreams of becoming a policeman, some day, and
the Riordans held themselves rather mightily, in
consequence. Mrs. Riordan also was endowed
with energy; but hers was chiefly linguistic.
It was the tactlessness of Mis' Shugar, the
Jewish landlady, which started things wrong for
the Caseys and Riordans. "It iss Irish peebles
in below of you," she told Mrs. Riordan when
renting to her, and went on to acquaint her with
very interesting details about the Caseys.
Mrs. Riordan sniffed — and the sniff was a
declaration of war. "Theer's mos'ly low Irish
livin' aroun' here," she said loftily, "an' me an'
my fam'ly don' take up wid 'em at all."
Nevertheless, she plied Mis' Shugar with a
number of questions about the Caseys' past and
present, and further pursued the same line of
investigation with the Rubovitzes — mother and
children — and the Spiridovitches, and with all
the others of her new neighbors above and below
and beside, who could "understan' annythin'
but gibberish," as Mrs. Riordan put it. Ac-
cordingly, when the first shot was fired it was
from a full arsenal on Mrs. Riordan's side, and
it fell into an unprepared but not — as will be
seen — into a defenceless camp when it landed
on Mary Casey hanging a few dingy-colored
clothes to dry in the low, oozy back yard.
What landed was a tin handbasinful of dirty
JUST FOLKS 225
water wherein several small Riordans had suc-
cessively performed compulsory ablutions — to
the no great improvement of the last in line.
The water fell with a splud, not a foot from where
Mary Casey stood, and part of it splashed mud
up on her low-hanging sheets, and part sprayed
She looked up, resentfully, but her tone was
quiet — as it always was — when she spoke.
"That's no way t' be doin'," she said, "t'rowin'
slops on a body's clane clo'es."
Mrs. Riordan was ready. "Clane?" she
sneered, "clane ? Sure I t'ought a little water'd
do thim good."
This was a crucial moment, for by the nature of
Mrs. Casey's reply Mrs. Riordan could judge
whether or not she had a foeman worthy of her
"It might 'ave," returned Mary, imperturb-
ably, pointing to the mud bespattering her sheets,
"if ye hadn' washed yer face in it first."
Mrs. Riordan snorted with mingled rage and
excitement ; it was going to be a fine fight !
The hostilities thus opened continued briskly;
hardly an hour passed without some sharp skir-
mishing, and never a day went by without an
engagement of sufficient magnitude to be called
a battle. As neither participant-in-chief ever
entered the other's flat, and both of them used
infrequently the inside hall of pitchy blackness
226 JUST FOLKS
and stairs of corkscrew turnings which were
"the back way" to the dwellers in front rooms
and "the front way" to dwellers in the rear,
most of the action took place in the yard — to
the no small satisfaction of those neighbors who
lived in rear rooms.
The offensive attitude was Mrs. Riordan's
exclusively; Mary preferred the retort to the
opening fire. "Anny wan can begin a fight,"
she said to those partisans of hers who were con-
tinually suggesting to her a strategy of attack,
"but it take rale brains t' finish wan." And it
was observable to every one — even to Mrs.
Riordan — that Mary usually did the finishing.
Even Pa Casey's admiration was compelled by
his wife's efficiency.
Every time he came in he would inquire for the
latest news from the seat of war. He was one
of the chief of those who presumed to offer Mary
advice as to how she should conduct her cam-
paign ; but his advice was never taken. None
the less, he believed himself to be the inspiration
of his wife's wittiest retorts, and as such he
bragged loudly at O'Shaughnessy's saloon. This
came to the ears of Mrs. Riordan — whose
better half also frequented O'Shaughnessy's
— and she taunted Mary with it.
"Sure," said Mary, cheerfully, "Casey do be
a great hilp t' me. He fin' out from Riordan,
when Riordan's drunk, what ye're practisin'
JUST FOLKS 227
up t' say t' me ; an' whin I come out here t' min'
me bit o' business, yer spielin's that old t' me
I don' bother me hid wid listenin' til it."
This untruth cost Riordan a warlike evening
and caused him to vent his injured feelings on
Pa Casey, to the enlivening of a jaded hour in
Much incensed, Pa carried the fight back to
Mary on whose head he intended the brunt of
the blow should fall, like a properly returned
"This here rag-chewin' wid the Riordan
woman's got to stop!" he declared, bringing
his stone-cutter's fist down on the table with an
emphasis that made the dishes dance.
Mary eyed him scornfully ; the pride of the
victor was in her veins and the novel sensation
was doing her a world of good.
"Got t' stop, have it?" she echoed. "Well,
I'll tell ye how t' stop it ! You git a job, an'
stay in it. Whin ye're workin' stiddy we can
move out o' this onhilthy cellar, an' go t' some
place wheer the neighbors'll have t' rayspict us.
What's the r'ason a woman like th' Riordan
woman dare t' come barkin' aroun' me that kin
silence 'er every time, an' she know it ? On'y
because you ain't got no job, an' she know it !
On'y because yer bye Mikey's in the refarm school
wheer yer drivin' of him an' continual restin' of
yersilf have sint him — an' she know it ! On'y
228 JUST FOLKS
because we're behin' han' wid th' rint — an' she
know it ! An' that ixpinsive iducation ye're after
buyin' fer poor little Patsy that didn' nade it,
's goin' t' git took off of us if I can't skimp
enough out o' the childern's stum'cks to make
a paymint on 't nixt wake — an' she know it !
'Tain't me that pervide her wid subjicks o' con-
versation ; 'tis yersilf ! An' 'tis yersilf that kin
stop 'er, if ye want 'er stopped ! "
There was always a fine uncertainty 1 how Pa
would receive a thrust like this ; whether
with return thrust, lunging viciously, or with
parry, discoursing pathetically on the times
and how out of joint they are, or with a display
of nimble dodging which caused one's ireful
stroke to pierce only thin air instead of Pa's
slothful and complacent mind.
This time he dodged. "Beats all," he philoso-
phized, "how women will pry an' gossip. A man
have no peace wid 'em at all — they're always
wantin' t' till 'im what the woman up-stairs had
on whin she wint t' the store, er how wasteful
she pales her pitaties. 'Tis no kind av talk at
all — an' if a man want to hear better, he've
got t' go wheer there's no women's tongues
And, with an aggrieved manner, Pa put on his
hat and went up to O'Shaughnessy's.
"Yer pa have gran' argymints," Mary flung
after him as he went — nominally addressing
JUST FOLKS 229
the children, but actually having the last word
with Pa — " sure, 'tis one o' these here lawyers
he ought t' have been — er anny job wheer
gab'll git ye bread an' butter an' ye've no nade
t' work at all."
But Pa was gone — as is the immemorial way
with men — and the situation in the Casey
household remained just about what the situation
had been since the Casey household began to be.
"That's all ye'll iver git out o' Pa!" ob-
served Johnny, bitterly. "Whin ye tell 'im yer
hungry, he put on his hat an' go t' O'Shaugh-
nessy's an' spind his las' quarter gittin' drunk."
Mary looked at her son. The harsh contempt
in his voice, the sharp disgust in his boyish,
almost childish, face, with its dimples that were
made for smiles, hurt her intolerably.
"Johnny," she said, "our Mikey ain' goin' t'
git out o' wheer he is fer quite a long time. An'
Ang'la Ann may not come back fer a while. We
can't go on livin' like this, an' theer's on'y two
t'ings I can t'ink of that we kin do. Wan o'
thim is that I kin git some dishwashing t' do in
some restyraunt on Twelfth Street, like I used t'
do, er go down town nights t' scrub buildin's ; and
th' other is t' try an' git you leave t' work. I'm
after talkin' t' Miss Tully about it, an' she say
she'll spake t' th' fact'ry inspicter about ye. An'
I'm t' take ye over theer an' show ye to 'im, till
he see does he want t' lit ye work."
230 JUST FOLKS
" I want t' work, all right," said Johnny, with
a bluff, brave tone and a manly hitching of his
trousers which, we all know, is sure outward evi-
dence that something conclusive has happened
in the male mind.
His mother went to the dark closet off the
"front" bedroom and after some deep delving
reappeared with a half-dozen nondescript things
which she ranged in review on the kitchen table.
Close inspection would have revealed them to be
the battered and weather-beaten remains of
what had once been hats — all "hand-downs"
from a variety of sources and none of them at any
time nicely related to Mary's looks or needs.
One after the other, she scrutinized them.
"What are them for?" asked Johnny.
"That's what I can't tell ye," his mother
replied. "They're the last o' the Morgans,
I'm thinkin', an' if I kin fin' wan o' thim that won'
scare a man, I'm goin' t' take you t' the mogul
that have so much t' say about who'll work an'
who will not."
Mrs. Riordan saw them when they went out.
"Seems t' me," she observed, hanging over her
porch rail in a leisurely way that belied her
energetic preachment, " that some folks'd better
stay home an' do their week's wash — which
they ain't touched yet — instid av gallivantin'
out wid fithered bunnits on 'em."
Mary looked up at her and smiled, showing
JUST FOLKS 231
her sad lack of teeth. "Work is fer thimthat
has to," she said loftily, "as fer me, I'm livin'
on th' intrust o' me money."
The factory inspector was one of those rare
mortals, a reformer with a sense of humor. He
listened with infinite appreciation to Mary's
recital of the reasons why it was necessary for
Johnny to have a job, and his face was a study
in repression when she came to the tale of the
"Your husband must be a most unusual sort
of man," he remarked gravely. He had been
fully posted by Beth on the Casey history.
"Humph!" said Mary, "I've seen plinty o'
the same sort, in my time ; the ,woods is pritty
full o' thim, on Hinry Strate ; 'tis the commonist
complaint we've got."
"I don't mean his laziness," the inspector has-
tened to explain ; "I mean his love of learning."
Mary's look was scathing. "Ye mane his
love o' showin' off, I guess. If theer was on'y
some way he could arn his livin' be showin' off,
sure no wan could bate him to it. 'Tis a pity you
that's so smart t' till childern they shan't work
an' kape from starvin', couldn' have a daypart-
mint t' till min like Casey they shan't ate — ner
drink — onliss they work."
"You could have him putin jail," suggested the
232 JUST FOLKS
"Thank ye," said Mary, "I've wan in jail
now, an' I don' find it no aid t' me income."
The inspector admitted the force of this argu-
ment. "Well," he said, "I can get him a job — "
"He kin git hisself a job, a' right," Mary in-
terrupted. "What he nade is a law t' make him
"There couldn't be a law like that," the
inspector explained; "it would be an injustice
to a lot of men who had good reason for wanting
to quit their jobs. But I wouldn't be above a
little deceit with Casey — I wouldn't mind trying
to make him believe there was such a law — "
(this was part of a plot laid with Beth).
"You couldn' do it !" said Mary, promptly
"Let me try," he begged, smiling. "Before
we put Johnny, here, to work while he ought
to be in school learning, and out doors playing
ball and growing big and strong so he won't be
like poor Mikey that you tell about, let me see
if I can't do something with Pa."
Mary's easy hopefulness grasped at this offer.
"If ye on'y could, now," she murmured grate-
fully. " Ye've no idare what a fine man Casey'd
be, if he could just git it into his hid that he
wanted t' work."
"Well, I'll be around to see him this evening,
about supper time. *And all you and Johnny
have got to do is not to let on that you've ever
seen me before."
JUST FOLKS 233
"Sure, we'll do that," said Mary. "But ye
ain't manein' him anny harm, are ye ? I
wouldn' do nothin' t' l'ave him be harmed. He
do vex me, at times, an' make t'ings hard fer the
childern, but theer ain't nothin' bad about him."
The inspector assured her that he meant no
possible harm to Pa. "But I think I can get
him a job," he said, "and if I do, perhaps I can
make him believe he's got to keep it."
Accordingly, that evening when the family was
at supper, an important-looking gentleman called,
looking for Patrick Casey. The Cairo and
Chicago R. R., he said, was building a new bridge
over the Sandstone River at Monovia, Illinois.
An additional stone-cutter was needed for work
on the piers, and the company, having heard of
the excellence of Mr. Casey's work, had sent to
offer the job to him.
Pa glanced around the family circle to make
sure they realized what was happening, and
after due consideration and discussion of ways
and means — and wages — accepted.
"Good!" said the caller as if now his mind
were at rest about the safety of the bridge. "I
have the company's contract with me, Mr.
Casey, all ready for your signature." And he
produced a formidable-looking document, much
ornamented with red and gilt seals, and a silver-
234 JUST FOLKS
"Contrack ?" said Pa, his eyes opening wide
at the sight, "I ain't niver signed no contrack
The inspector looked surprised. "Well, prob-
ably not," he admitted, "but I should think a
man of your well-known skill would always have
insisted on it. What right has any corporation
to approach you with a request to work for it,
to ask you to leave your family and go to Mono-
via, without giving you its legally-attested
guarantee that when you get there you will find
the work as described to you ? This contract pro-
vides that the company furnish you with free
transportation to Monovia ; that it pay you the
union scale for stone-cutting during all the
time you are in its employ ; and it assures you
employment every day for a period of not less
than six months. It is not often, Mr. Casey, that
a man of your known abilities will accept a posi-
tion without a contract. In the professional and
higher mercantile worlds, no one would dream
of so doing. Why, then, should the skilled
laborer be asked to do less ?"
"That's what I've niver been able t' see!"
said Pa, indignantly, as he reached for the pen
to sign his name. He had the air of a states-
man to whom has come at last the moment
when what he has long contended for needs
only his signature to become a law. It was a
breathless moment in the Caseys' family history,
JUST FOLKS 23s
and no one enjoyed it so much as Pa — not
"I'll be around in the morning, Mr. Casey," the
inspector said, "and take you down to the depot
and introduce you to the company's agent."
When he was gone, the Caseys sat for a few
seconds in a silence no one of them dared to
break. Then Pa, looking scornfully at the
meagre supper table, said : —
"Johnny, go up t' Schmidinger's an' git two
lemon cream pies, on me word."
After supper, Pa got together his tools, left
explicit orders about having his "things washed
up," and went to O'Shaughnessy's, wearing, as he
went, such an insufferably swaggering air that it
was a foregone conclusion he would not be in the
genial atmosphere of O'Shaughnessy's longer
than five minutes before some one essayed to
take the swagger out of him.
Some one did ; they all did ! They scoffed
at his "contrack"; they suggested that the
inspector was a "fly cop" and it was a warrant
for his own arrest that Pa had signed ; they
hinted that, failing the warrant, it was "some
kind o' bunk"; they intimated that if any one
present had a gold brick, Pa would be a likely
purchaser; they asked him if he had ever seen
the explosion on the lake front and if he'd heard
the Masonic Temple was for sale.
At first, Pa tried to joke with them, to twit
236 JUST FOLKS
them as being jealous, and the like. But in a
little while he grew as angry as they desired and
drank as much as O'Shaughnessy considered his
credit was "good for."
Then he went home, where the children were
all asleep and Mary was still bending over the
wash-tub, and gave Mrs. Riordan (through the
ceiling, which also was her kitchen floor) a de-
tailed recital of his wrongs.
In the morning, when the inspector came,
Pa refused to go. The inspector appealed to
Mr. Casey. Would he go back on his word ?
Would he leave the railroad in the lurch ? Had
he no sense of the responsibility of that bridge,
over which so many persons would be carried
that the safety of its stone piers was of the very
gravest importance to thousands of human
lives ? Pa considered none of these things.
Then the inspector was sorry, but firm. Mr.
Casey had signed a contract ; the law would
expect him to fulfil it. And the inspector opened
his coat and displayed an authoritative star.
Pa went. Mrs. Riordan was hanging over
her porch rail and saw them go.
"Is yer man pinched, too ?" she asked Mary.
"Why, no!" said Mary, "is yours? Whin
was he took ? "
The job at Monovia proved genuine enough,
as Pa discovered on arriving there. The town
JUST FOLKS 237
was a miserable little "dump" which existed
only because of the great mine of bituminous
coal that was practically its sole industry and
excuse for being. There were miners' cottages —
some squalid, and some as neat and nearly
attractive as the bleak and black surroundings
would allow ; and a proportion of saloons which
astonished even Pa ; these, with a couple of
"general" stores, comprised Monovia. The
workmen on the C. and C. bridge, just beyond
the tiny town, were quartered in a construction
train of freight-cars. Skilled workmen, who
could earn four dollars a day, did not relish this ;
it incensed them to be put, apparently, on a level
with the "dagoes" who shovelled dirt. Hence
the ease with which the factory inspector got
the job for Pa.
The contractor's foreman at the bridge had
no particular sense of humor, but he had a great
desire to get his stone piers in. So, when the
"contrack" was passed on to him, with explana-
tions, he welcomed it as a possible way of
keeping one stone-cutter with him.
Accordingly, when Pa "threw a bluff" and
declared he was going to leave, the foreman pro-
duced that formidable-looking document with
all its red and gold seals, and laid down to Pa the
"law" about violation of contract. A fellow-
workman to whom Pa confided his dilemma,
was very sceptical, and advised Pa to consult a
2 3 8 JUST FOLKS
lawyer. But Pa had no sense of lawyers as
persons who might get one out of trouble —
only as persons who were zealous to get one deeper
in ; and besides, there was no lawyer at Monovia.
So Pa stayed.
He wrote home, sometimes, and every now
and then he sent some money. There was noth-
ing regular about his remittances and they had
but a meagre ratio to his earnings. But Mary
was not used to regularity, nor to sufficiency.
And she was looking forward hopefully to the
time when Mikey "would be let out," and to
the home-coming of Angela Ann.
Her unfaltering faith in the latter event was
wonderful. It was the dream of her life, now,
to have the "parlie" ready when Angela Ann
"It have always been my belafe," she told
Beth, "that if we'd had a parlie the poor little
t'ing wouldn't niver 'a' wint away. Ag'in she
come home, I'm goin' t' kape the parlie nice far
'er an' not l'ave the kids muss it up. An' I
ain' goin' t' l'ave 'er go down town t' work no
more — theer's too manny bad min. She kin
stay home an' mind th' house, an' I'll git scrub-
bin' t' do. Wid what her pa sind, now an' thin,
an' what I earn, an' what Mikey make ag'in he
git out, an' Johnny goin' t' work before so very
long, we kin mebbe give her a dollar a wake fer
'er clo'es an' spindin' money. An' Kate an'
JUST FOLKS 239
Pete's goin' t' take her t' th' theaytre rale fray-
quint — an' Maggie an' Tim'll do what they
kin fer 'er — an' by 'n 'by whin she git cheered
up good, an' some nice young felly that mane
right by 'er come around, I'm goin' t' l'ave 'er
'ave 'im in th' parlie ivry night, an' no wan t'
Beth could hardly keep her tears back when
she thought how little likely all this was to
come to pass. But she never let breath of her
unbelief dull Mary's hopes. And between them,
she and Eleanor begged quite a collection of
finery for the parlie. Then, one night after the
other children were abed, Mary and Johnny
washed the dirty blue kalsomine off the walls ;
and another night they had much amusement
putting on a new coat which the man in the
paint store "on Blue Islan'" had mixed for them.
He lent them a brush, for a nickel extra ; and if,
when the brush came back again, he regretted
his bargain, he didn't say so. The pathos of
the parlie must have got into his heart, too.
The color of the new kalsomine was green. A
newspaper story of Hart Ferris's brought several
offers of discarded bookcases, one of which was
accepted for the Cyclopaedia. The same source
yielded a stuffed sofa and two or three chairs —
one a patent rocker. Eleanor begged a lamp
and some curtains. Beth manoeuvred the ac-
quisition of a carpet-rug, not new, but amply
240 JUST FOLKS
satisfying. Mary made one purchase. A
second-hand store on Halsted Street displayed
a gorgeous gilt and plush frame with an "air
brush" enlargement of some lady of the Nine-
teenth Ward — or elsewhere — who was de-
ceased, or supplanted and forgotten.
Beth was a bit staggered when she saw this.
"Who is the lady, Mary ?" she asked.
"Sure, I dunno," said Mary. "But she's a
nice-lookin' lady, an' I got it chape, an' I t'ought
it'd look rale drissy fer a parlie — seein' we've
no enlargemints of our own."
Beth gasped. Then she recollected how ex-
actly similar were her reasons for owning as
her sole art treasures a carbon photograph of
Mona Lisa and a little plaster cast of Venus of
Thus the parlie progressed, to the envy of
Mrs. Riordan and the Rubovitzes, and the great
consolation of Mary.
One night toward the end of March, Johnny
came in with a "Last and Sporting Extra" of a
penny paper committed to the belief in lurid
text and large headlines. It was the baseball
scores and the "gossip of the ringside," along
with the minor delight of the comic pictures,
that made this sheet dear to Johnny, and he sat
poring over these while he ate his supper.
On the front sheet of that part of the paper
for which Johnny, save in a bored emergency,
JUST FOLKS 241
had no use, particularly large headlines in black
and in red stared at Mary as she laid down his
"What do thim large letters say?" she in-
quired, pointing to them. Experience had taught
her that they usually bespoke a sensation out of
With a " What's-the-use ?" expression, Johnny
laid down his vital statistics and cast an
"easy-reading eye" on the headlines. "It
say: 'Awful Mine Horror. Four Hundred
Miners En — En— '"
"In nothin' — I can't make it out — en — "
Mary looked at her son. "Johnny Casey,
d'ye mane t' till me that you can't rade printin'
the size o' that — an' you been to school these
siven er eight years ?"
"Aw," said Johnny, " I kin rade the letters,
a' right, but I don't know what they mane.
E— N— T— O— M— B— E— D."
"Well, no more do I. What do it say nixt ?"
" — in a burnin' mine. Four hundred miners
somethin' in a burnin' mine."
" Fer th' love o' God ! Wheer ? "
Johnny looked. "Why, at that place wheer
Pa be," he said, and went on to read out, rather
laboriously, the first, generally descriptive lines
about the catastrophe.
Mary's face blanched with horror as he read
242 JUST FOLKS
of the miners trapped in the crypt-like chambers
and passageways of the blazing mine; of the
frantic women and children gathered at the
mine's mouth ; and of the deadly gases that
drove back daring rescuers.
"Think o' that, now!" she said, "an' thank
God yer pa work wid th' blissid sky above
Dewey came in from his play in the street,
for a moment, and stood listening. Little Annie,
conscious of something unusual, clutched at her
Johnny, loving the intentness of his audience,
read on ; read how, in the face of almost certain
death, a few rescuers had finally gone down into
the mine; how, before going, they had written
brief notes of farewell and left them to be de-
livered if the rescuers perished with them they
sought to save.
At this point, Mary cried out inarticulately,
but in unmistakable anguish. Johnny stopped
reading and looked at her inquiringly.
"If — if yer pa was wan o' thim," she said.
Johnny turned again to his paper. "Aw,"
he answered, in a manner meant to be re-
assuring, "Pa wouldn' go down in no burnin'
"Hold yer tongue agin yer pa !" his mother
ordered him, grasping him by the shoulders and
shaking him resentfully. "Theer's manny that
JUST FOLKS 243
ain't got the courage t' live as they ought,
that's got the courage t' die brave an' splindid.
Look sharp, now, an' see if it don't till who those
Johnny looked, but nowhere was the name
Casey to be seen. In fact, few names of any
kind appeared in the account, which was rushed
on to the wires too soon after the breaking out
of the fire to make any details possible.
But Mary was not consoled. "I've a feelin',"
she insisted, "that he's wan o' thim. Iver since
I know yer pa I've ixpicted 'im t' do somethin'
like it. Fer ivry girl do drame of a hero, an'
ivry bride do t'ink she's gittin' wan. An' whin
the years wint by, an' yer pa didn' give no life-
like riprisintation of a hero, I niver los' faith in
'im altogither. 'He'll do it yit,' I'd always say
t' mesilf. 'Some heroes makes theer chances,
an' some has t' wait till theer chance come.
He's evidently wan o' thim that have t' wait.
Don't you niver give 'im up fer good,' I'd till
mesilf, 'until you know he's had his chance an'
hasn' took it.' If he was workin' theer, close by
that mine wheer thim poor min was shut in an'
burnin' t' death, he's gon' down t' bring thim
up — you mark me words ! God know the fear
that's in me heart this minute ! But God know,
too, the worse than fear that would be theer if
I had t' belave me Patsy'd had his chance an
hadn' took it!"
244 JUST FOLKS
That was a night of vigil in the Casey home.
The children slept, as children can; but Mary
sat in her black kitchen the long night through
— fearful, triumphant ; thinking, thinking.
When her window-pane paled to gray, she
opened the back door softly, and stole out to
the corner to look for a paper. But it was too
early for newsboys or for those little shops which
sold papers on Blue Island Avenue. So Mary
went back and waited. If there was one thing
life had taught her even more perfectly than
many others, it was to wait. At six o'clock
she went to the corner again and found a
Back in her kitchen she spread the paper out
and looked at the pictures which were self-
evidently about that part of it wherein her in-
terest centred. Then, unable to wait longer,
she woke Johnny and brought him, rubbing his
eyes sleepily, out to the kitchen to tell her
what it said.
Johnny doused his face with cold water at
the sink, and that helped a little. But when he
turned to the paper he was dismayed. "Theer's
pages an' pages about it," he said.
"I'd like t' hear it all," his mother replied
wistfully, a but can't ye fin' that place first
wheer it till about thim riscuers ?"
Johnny didn't know if he could, but he'd try.
He bent over the outspread sheets and scanned
JUST FOLKS 245
the columns anxiously. Mary's patient inten-
sity was pitiful to see.
Finally, "Here it is," he said. Mary's heart
seemed to stop beating. "'No word of the
brave rescuers who went down into the burning
mine has come to the surface since they made
their daring descent, and it is feared all have
perished.'" Mary moaned. "'As nearly all the
able-bodied men in town were in the mine at
the time of the accident, the rescuers were re-
cruited mainly from the workmen engaged in
building the new C. and C. bridge over the Sand-
stone River at Monovia.'"
"What'dltillye?" she cried.
"'Among these,'" read Johnny, and spelled
out several names ; then, with a queer little cry
that was half pride and half despair, he pointed
with his forefinger to the place, as if thus to
verify what he read: '"Patrick Casey, of Chi-
cago — 21 Henry Street — who was employed
as a stone-cutter on the C. and C. bridge.'"
He looked up at his mother. The other
children had been wakened, had got out of bed,
and were standing about her, looking at her too.
They had seen their mother meet many an
emergency, but they had never seen her look
like this. Her stooping figure seemed straight-
ened ; there was a flush in her thin, sallow
cheeks ; tears were dropping from her eyes, but
underneath the tears her eyes flashed. She
246 JUST FOLKS
reached down and snatched up Annie and
strained the child to her bosom with a splendid
passion of maternity.
"Childern," she said, and her voice broke in
sobs that had, somehow, a note of triumph in
them, " down on yer knees, an' ivry wan av us'll
pray th' Blissid Vargin t' presarve yer father —
that's a — hero."
Before breakfast was well over, all that part
of Henry Street which can read newspapers,
and all that part which can understand if it
cannot read English, knew about Pa Casey;
and a steady stream of curious and sympathiz-
ing callers flowed along the narrow passageway
between the Caseys' tenement and the one next
door. Most of them were dumfounded at what
they saw. Mary's spirit had communicated
itself to her children, and there was none of
that loud lamentation which Henry Street had
expected, and hoped, to see and hear. It was
an awed and quiet household. Tears welled
frequently in every eye — especially when neigh-
bors who were bent on excitement and disap-
pointed at finding none sought to create it by
dwelling on what must be the horrors of that
death in a pit of flames, which was Pa's death
— but, following Mary's example, even the
children wiped them silently away.
"She took it awful calm," criticised one neigh-
bor, coming away. "I don' b'leeve she care much."
JUST FOLKS 247
"Well," reminded another, a trifle more in-
clined to charity, "he was small good t' her er
anny wan. Maybe 'tis kind of a relafe he's
Nobody seemed to understand — Mary's own
kin as little as the rest — but the sympathy
that helped most, next to Beth's, came from
some of the Russian Jew women who had them-
selves known the horror of an awful death for
those they loved, in Kishinev and Kief.
Mary's sister Maggie and her husband, Tim
Kavanagh, were early on the scene, trying to
make Mary see how she wouldn't be much worse
off, "whin Mikey git out ; an' now that Johnny'll
soon be able t' git a stiddy job."
Once, something blazed in Mary's eyes for a
moment ; she was almost on the point of trying
to tell these Kavanaghs. But the hopelessness
of making them understand, caused her to hold
It was when the reporters began coming that
Mary gave the shock of their lives to the Kava-
naghs. "The account o' Pat Casey she gave
to those min, was somethin' ye wouldn' belave"
as Tim Kavanagh said, in telling about it after-
wards, to Pete Foley.
Hart Ferris explained to her how, if her hus-
band's body was recovered, it might not be
known for his unless she could help to identify
it. He said he would send word to her, as soon
248 JUST FOLKS
as it came into the newspaper offices, when any-
bodies were recovered, but that probably she
could never get her husband's remains unless
she could pick them out from among the heaps
of unidentified dead.
"Sure, I could niver git to — that place,
wheeriver it is," she said.
"We'll fix that !" he told her. And "fix it"
he did. The evening's paper contained descrip-
tions of the Casey home that set Henry Street
agog with interest — some proud, some full of
contemptuous dissent — and subscriptions to
help send Mary Casey to Monovia poured in
generously. Yes, and many callers came —
some, as Johnny said, "jest t' rubber" and a
few to offer assistance.
There was one subject Mary was careful not
to mention to any reporter — and that was
Mikey in the reform school. "'Tis few, ye
might say, that know 'bout it," she explained
to Beth, "an' the fewer the better for Mikey
whin 'tis all past an' behint him." But she
stole away to the School (which was less than
two miles away), and on telling her story to the
sympathetic warden, got permission to see
Mikey — not in the wire cage where visiting
was usually permitted, but in the warden's
"Ye've t'ought hard o' yer pa, manny times,
Mikey bye," she said; "an' often I couldn'
JUST FOLKS 249
r'ally blame ye. But ye kin hoi' up yer hid
about 'im, now ! He've done gran' by ye at
last, Mikey ! He've lift ye a name ye kin be
proud of !"
It was days before the flames in that vast
pit of death were subdued ; days before word
came to Mary Casey that bodies were being
brought up, and that she would best hasten
to Monovia to see if she could identify her
Tim Kavanagh thought he should go — "bein'
the man o' the fam'ly." But he shrank from
before the furious refusal in Mary's eyes and
in her scant figure with its new erectness and
command. u Fm the man o' this fam'ly, now,"
she said. And Tim withdrew.
In one of his pockets, Pa Casey always carried
a bit of Colorado goldstone, picked up on some
of his vagrant wanderings. It was a topic for
frequent conversation, because when things
"wint bad," Pa would descant on what things
might be if he could only get back to the
country " wheer a man can pick up the like o'
this off the ground." Sometimes he encountered
a scoffer, who tried to explain that the shining
particles were not gold ; but Pa never believed
him — his faith in his El Dorado remained
unshaken to the end. It was by the bit of
goldstone that Mary identified him ; not even
2SO JUST FOLKS
the fires of that Inferno had destroyed its
When they gave Mary the letter he had left
for her — the hastily-scrawled note of farewell
written at the mouth of the burning mine — she
admitted to no one that she could not read it,
but carried it in her bosom until she got home.
There, standing beside his father's coffin as
she directed him, Mikey, who had been allowed
to go to his father's funeral, broke the seal of the
dirty envelope and read. The start for the
church would be made presently; this was
their last time together as a family. All the
mourning for Patsy which had grown rusty, was
re-dipped ; and in the pitiful little parlie there
seemed only black and white ; black shadows
(for it was a drear, rainy day), and black clothes,
and black casket ; and white faces, and white
candles, and white flowers.
With choking voice, Mikey began to read : —
" 'Dear Mamie' " — it was the name he had
called her by in their courting days, before she
became just "yer ma" — "'Dear Mamie an'
the Kids. If this ever gits to you I guess you'll
know why I rote it. The wives an kids of them
fellows down there is standin at the mouth If it
was youse I hope some one would go down fer
me. Goodby. If I come up alive I'm goin to do
better by you. Love to all.
JUST FOLKS 251
When he finished, they were all sobbing.
Mary reached for the letter and returned it to
"Thank God fer yer chance, Patsy bye!"
she said, her face uplifted and her eyes shining.
While the Caseys were burying Pa, the Slin-
skys were made distraught by the serious illness
of Jacob. "Pneumonia," the doctor said, and
advised the hospital.
Mrs. Slinsky, when the hospital was men-
tioned, fell heavily into a kitchen chair, lifted
her apron to her face, and began to weep violently.
Her mother, acute terror writ in every feature,
tugged at the weeping woman's sleeve, begging,
in Yiddish, to be told what was going to happen ;
when Dinah explained to her, the grandmother
beat her withered breasts, then covered with her
shawl her be-wigged head and gave way to woe
Dinah motioned the doctor out into the hall.
"They do not understand," she explained, "they
fear the hospital as the place where people go
only to die. I will try to explain."
"You must do it quickly, then. Every hour
counts, in pneumonia. And your father is a
delicate man — if the pneumonia does not carry
him off now, it may easily turn to consumption
and put him to a lingering death. He must have
nursing ; he must have many things that he can-
JUST FOLKS 253
not have here. You understand ; you explain it
When he was gone, Dinah knocked at Liza
Allen's door and asked to speak to Beth who,
fortunately, was in. Dinah told their trouble
and asked if Beth thought it would be im-
posing on Mrs. Brent's goodness to telephone
her and ask her to come over.
"Not at all," said Beth, "I'm sure she would
want to know. I'll go up to the drug store and
In an hour Eleanor Brent was there, pleading
with Mrs. Slinsky about the hospital, trying to
describe its advantages, its beneficence, to tell
her how persons of the very greatest wealth
gladly went from their splendid homes to the
hospitals and paid big sums to get nursing no
better than Jacob Slinsky might have for no
charge at all.
"I think I can get him into the Presbyterian
Hospital," Eleanor said. "They are very
crowded, but I'll try — if you'll let me. He'll
almost certainly die, here. In pneumonia it is
so hard to breathe — as you hear ! He must
have lots of pure air, and your bedroom is so
small and close — not much air comes in. If
you keep him here, and he dies, think how you
will always reproach yourself ! But if you give
him his chance to live — "
Thus entreated, Mrs. Slinsky at length con-
254 JUST FOLKS
sented, and Eleanor went away to make arrange-
The arrival of the ambulance created intense
excitement in Maxwell Street, and before the
attendants had reached the top of the stairs with
the stretcher on which Jacob was to be taken
away, the doorway and the sidewalk were
thronged, and curious heads hung out of every
window that permitted a view.
Patient, gentle, resigned, Jacob was an entirely
passive factor in the scene. Sarah wept hysteri-
cally. Abe strove manfully to be brave and to
comfort his mother. Dinah showed a beautiful
heroism. But the little grandmother, at sight
of her beloved son-in-law being carried away
by strange, uniformed men, uttered one scream
of heart-broken protest and fell to the floor.
Picking her up and carrying her into the room
where she slept with the two girls, created a
distraction which eased the terrible tension of
those moments when the stretcher-bearers were
slowly making their way with their burden
down the steep, dark stairs and out through the
close-pressing crowds about the door. But long
after the ambulance had driven away, the
distressing moans, the guttural, unintelligible
sounds, issued from that little room where
Mrs. Slinsky and her mother were.
"Can't you comfort your grandmother?"
Eleanor entreated of Dinah.
JUST FOLKS 255
"I will try again," said Dinah, bravely, "but
it is hard. In Poland she suffered so much, she
cannot understand how it is different here, nor
why men come to take my dear father away."
When Jacob had been gone for time long
enough to see him settled at the hospital,
Eleanor ventured on something which might,
she hoped, lessen the reign of terror in the
Slinsky home : she took Mrs. Slinsky over to
the hospital, made a specially strong plea to the
Superintendent, and got permission for Jacob's
wife to see him for a moment and so feel assured
that he was being well cared for.
Up in the elevator, and along the wide corridors
with the shining oaken floors, they went. It
was a bright, warm, gloriously sunny day —
one of those wherewith March often tricks
Chicago into believing spring has come, only
to undeceive her later with long weeks of belated
blustering. Eleanor had pointed out to Mrs.
Slinsky as they came, how fortunate they were
to have such a day for Jacob's removal. She
felt doubly grateful that on a day like this Mrs.
Slinsky was come to get her first impressions of
a hospital. Floods of sunshine were everywhere,
and accentuated the shining cleanliness, the
large, comfortable rooms, the airiness and the
quiet. Mrs. Slinsky was impressed by the evi-
dent willingness of such patients as she saw —
256 JUST FOLKS
convalescents, mostly — to be there; by the
competent look of the nurses ; and by the
unmistakably happy relations between the sick
and those who cared for them. Eleanor's in-
fluence with the hospital authorities was suffi-
ciently strong to get her permission to take Mrs.
Slinsky to the children's ward, where she saw
the little things for whom so much had been
done. This ward always abounds in stories of
child patients who were loath to go home;
and Mrs. Slinsky could almost understand why,
when she saw how happy they were there.
Then they went to see Jacob. Fortified by all
these comforting impressions, his wife was able
to speak a reassuring word to him and to come
away herself reassured.
When they got back to Maxwell Street and had
climbed the dark stairs to the Slinskys' rooms,
Eleanor hoped Mrs. Slinsky was struck, as
she was, by the tremendous contrast between
them and those big, airy, sun-flooded rooms to
which Jacob had been removed for his life's
saving. Not a window in this place had been
opened for months, probably ; and if any of the
rays of March sunshine had struggled down over
the roof of the next building on the west, and
into the tiny court, and come a-seeking, merci-
fully, at the one window in the Slinskys' kitchen,
they could not — it seemed — have forced their
beneficent way through the grime with which
JUST FOLKS 257
that window was "opaqued." Eleanor longed
to speak of air, but dared not. She wondered
how Dinah stood the daily change from the big,
gray building on the Lake Front, with its galleries
of lovely things and its air of order and rest-
fulness, to this clutter and dirt and unloveli-
ness. For the grandmother and for the mother,
it was all right, perhaps ; they knew no better,
nor cared to know. But Dinah, with her love
of beauty ! Eleanor shuddered to think of the
girl's daily home-comings, and of her long even-
ings spent here, trying to sketch the old, be-
wigged grandmother, and the mother, moving
heavily about and "spilling tears."
Dinah had done what she could, while her
mother and Eleanor were gone, to put the place
to rights. It had been a relief to gather up the
unwashed dishes, to pick up the aprons and
other clothing dropped in the abandonment
of woe and left to lie where they fell.
She had even succeeded in quieting the old
grandmother; but on Mrs. Slinsky's return,
her mother's lamentations broke out afresh and
were silenced only by a long account, in Yiddish,
of the pleasant place their dear Jacob was in ;
even after all was told, though, the old woman
shook ominously her black-wigged head.
" She can't believe," said Mrs. Slinsky ; " always
she is remembering Poland and our sufferings."
"You suffered much, there ?" Eleanor asked.
258 JUST FOLKS
"Oh, yes — much ! To learn to read, it was
forbidden. To go out of our village was not
allowed. Should a girl come out of her village
for any reason, and go back, she's branded
as — as one that has no shame. In nothing
is freedom — in everything is oppression. And
'the Little Father' some do call the Tsar!"
"Perhaps he doesn't know — he sits so high
up in his great palaces he cannot realize," sug-
She was startled by the vehemence of the
flaccid woman before her. "But he should
know !" Mrs. Slinsky cried. "That is what his
business is — he should know ! In my country is
legend of a king. He was very great, rich king
and his people was very poor and suffered much,
so that after while his heart was touched, and
he had wish to help. But what to do he could
not tell — he knows so little what poor peoples
need. So he thinks very hard. Most of his
men what he has to help him, think poor people
should be poor — that is all they are worthy
of ; and nobody knows how to tell that king
what he shall do. But he has one chief man
he loves ; that man is good man at heart. So
the king send rough soldiers, one night, and take
that good man and drag him from his family
and send him into exile. And the soldiers tell
that man the king has take all his possessions
away — everything ; and that he will not see
JUST FOLKS 259
his wife or children or his old father and mother,
any more. And they take that good man and
cast him on little island where is nobody, and
where he cannot come away, and where he
must get with his own hands fire to keep from
freezing and food to keep from starving. And
the king leaves him so, for three years, to
wonder why he is treated this way. Then the
king sends for him and gives him back all that
he had, and says : 'Now you shall help me to do
good. You know how it is to suffer like poor
peoples suffer.' And that good man could
help the king, and it was wonderful time in
Poland for poor peoples. If the Tsar wanted,
he could help. Maybe he couldn't go himself to
learn ; but he could send."
"And that king, too, sent his best," Eleanor
murmured, deeply moved.
Dinah followed her into the dark hall, when
she came away, and closing the kitchen door
behind them, said: "Perhaps you have not
thought, my dear, dear friend, but with my
father's illness, our — our living stops. There
is only one thing to do ; I must get work.
Abe finishes High School this year — he must
not stop now. I cannot earn much, perhaps,
but I can do something so we can live; and
my .mother will sew a little. If you should
hear of anything that I can do — or if Miss
Tully should— "
26o JUST FOLKS
"I'll try — I'll ask her, too, Dinah, dear,"
Eleanor assured her; and bent, in the black
hall, to kiss Dinah's sweet, patient face — glad
of the darkness in which Dinah could not see her
"I'll see now if Miss Tully's home," she
said ; and knocked on Liza's door as Dinah
Beth was not there just then, but Liza expected
her at any minute and she urged Mrs. Brent to
wait. Sunshine was pouring in the two south
windows of Liza's front room, and the atmos-
phere — if not quite like that of Eleanor's
home — was very bearable and a most grateful
change from that of the Slinskys' kitchen.
Adam was at home — he was usually at home
— snugly ensconced beside the kitchen stove;
and he and Liza abundantly entertained Eleanor
while Beth tarried.
Finally, when she could wait no longer, Elea-
nor left with Liza her message for Beth about
Dinah, and went on her way to see what she
herself could do.
The mystery of Eleanor's "man" and why
he had been such a tragic disappointment, gave
Liza and Adam great concern.
"Don't seem like she could have give him
much of a trial," said Liza, that evening after
Beth had returned and been given an account
JUST FOLKS 261
of Eleanor's visit, "fer, land sakes ! she ain't
nothin' but a child, yet ! "
"It doesn't take a lifetime to find out some
mistakes," suggested Beth. "I guess when a
girl like Eleanor builds a lovely dream about
some one, and it is shattered — "
"Oh, shucks!" declared Liza, "life ain't
no dream. What's all her eddication fer, an'
her furrin travel, an' all that, if it don't teach
her what I learned 'thout ever comin' out o'
Steuben ville : that gittin' married's a serious
business. Men wa'n't made t' dream about;
they was made t' develop woman's Christian
Adam received this thrust, which he knew was
intended for him, with beautiful complacency;
there was no role he liked so well as that of the
"Then I s'pose," he ventured, after due time
to think out his retort, "that them women
that marries awful late in life, has got dreadful
backward Christian characters."
Liza bristled, even beyond his hopes. "Don't
you ever believe it!" she cried. "There's
more ways, an' better ones, of findin' out what
men is, than bein' tied to one poor specimen —
on'y some women never finds 'em."
"Not if they kin find the specimen," Adam
At this point, Beth thought it wise to inter-
262 JUST FOLKS
vene. "I can't see," she said musingly, "how
there could be any kind of man who could live
with a girl like Eleanor Brent and not be up-
lifted by her."
"That's just it, I bet ye!" Adam opined.
"She's prob'ly too durned upliftin' fer any
mortal use. I know them women !"
"You !" Liza snorted unbelievingly.
"Yes, me! There's more ways, an' better
ones, of findin' out what women is, than bein'
tied to one poor specimen."
Thus the speculations raged, beginning with
Eleanor, but always intensely personal in their
final results — just as least and greatest of us
philosophizes upon the world at large with spe-
cial reference to the world within ourselves.
Beth was only amused at the conjectures of
Adam, and even of Liza. But she was a little
nettled to find that Hart Ferris inclined to take a
somewhat similar view of Eleanor's probable case.
"I don't know where 'the shine' of her life,
as you call it, went to," he ventured to say,
"but I'd like to bet that it's lurking somewhere
where she could whistle it back if she would —
and she wonH."
"Why, Hart Ferris!"
"Well, I don't mean to be ungallant, Beth
dear, but them's my honest sentiments. I
haven't seen much of the kind of lovely lady that's
too good for this naughty world — my lines
JUST FOLKS 263
haven't fallen in the places she frequents — but
I've heard about her, and read about her. And
I know she collects a lot of sympathy in excess
of what she deserves. Mary Casey stacks up
much, much bigger with me. Do you remember
what she said when you told her about Adam and
Liza ? ' I belave 'tis in the nature of ivry woman
t' want a man t' try her hand on. All of us be-
laves oursilves born min-tamers, an' none of us
iver loses the notion — though some kapes tryin'
diffrunt min, lookin' fer success wid wan out
o' the lot, an' some kapes tryin' the same man
over an over, same as me.' I'm old-fashioned,
maybe, but the longer I live and the more I
see of the world, the bigger she looks to me —
that woman who 'kapes tryin' 3 her one man,
over and over, same as Mary Casey."
Beth made no reply. She pretended to her-
self that it was because of the uselessness of
argument. But really it was because she had
nothing to say.
It was not easy, finding work for Dinah ; but
Eleanor had not expected that it would be, and
she was not daunted by the difficulty. By dint
of great diplomacy, she managed to get Dinah
to accept from her a small loan which she was
to pay back in small weekly instalments out of
her wages when she got work; and this pro-
vided for the family's immediate necessities.
264 JUST FOLKS
It might have been a little easier to get some
simple manual thing for Dinah to do at home
— she did, indeed, help her mother with the
"finishing" Mrs. Slinsky did for sweatshops —
but Eleanor was intensely anxious to see if
something could not be found for Dinah that
would enable her to earn, and still not slam too
rudely in her face all those doors to long vistas
of beauty, through which she had peered so
wistfully these last months.
At length the way opened, quite wonderfully,
it seemed. A friend of Eleanor's who did most
exquisite bookbinding and other art work in
leathers, offered to take Dinah as an apprentice ;
to teach her design, the use of color, and other
excellent things which, mastered, command a
good recompense and give an artist-craftsman's
joy. Dinah was to stay in the studio and, in
the absence of the artist, to answer the tele-
phone, receive parcels, and otherwise provide
against the possible loss of being called upon
and found not at home. Also, she was to do
anything helpful that she could do about the
studio at any time. And the artist, who could
easily have got without pay an apprentice from
among the hundreds of well-to-do girls who as-
pired to learn her art, was willing to disregard
that fact and pay Dinah a small weekly wage
— more than she could possibly have earned at
any of the employments for which she was now
JUST FOLKS 265
fitted. This was a principle, with Dinah's new
friend. She believed in gleanings, not in dole;
in leaving some of her harvest to be gathered,
self-respectingly, by the needy, rather than in
reaping it all herself and handing back a tithe
of it in demeaning charity. Dinah was exceed-
ingly fortunate to enlist the interest of this
splendid woman. She did not know, of course,
about the "gleanings" — was not aware that
the offer of wages was unusual — but she did
know that the opportunity was a fine one, and
she was intensely grateful. In the studio she
would encounter many charming and clever
people, would hear such talk as delighted her,
and be in a way, almost as much as in the
Art Institute, to realize many of her fondest
"You have no idea," she said lovingly to
Eleanor, "how you have transformed my life,
and life for us all. There used to be nothing to
expect — almost nothing to hope. I was afraid
to look ahead, to think of the future. Now, it
is all so different. Every day I wake with a
glad feeling, for I cannot tell what sweet surprise
the day will bring."
But alas for the best-laid plans ! Dinah had
been in the studio less than a week when the
sword fell. On Friday afternoons, after dark,
her employer laid work aside and served tea to
her friends. She asked some help of Dinah —
266 JUST FOLKS
something about lighting the charcoal fire in the
Dinah's face flushed, and her eyes spoke keen
distress. "I — I — it is the Shabbas," she fal-
tered; "we are forbidden — "
" The what?"
"And to-morrow ?"
"To-morrow I must not do any work. I am
so sorry — I ought to have thought about it
before — but I forgot — I was so happy — and
I am used only to those who understand our
"I, too, am sorry, Dinah; but I think you'll
find that you can't get on this way. If you are
content to stay in the Ghetto, you may keep
your orthodoxy. But if you want to come out,
to enter the big other world, you must meet
it on its own terms. You — you — pardon me,
but you have much against you, at best. And
you make your way so much, much harder by
insisting on practices that are not sacred in the
world you want to enter. Now, if you feel that
you cannot change — "
"Oh, I couldn't," pleaded Dinah, in an awed
tone but with vehement conviction, "it would
break my parents' hearts. And we — you see
they try to be very, very strict about the laws,
because they feel that at some time they must
have given offence, and I — am their Judgment."
JUST FOLKS 267
"I feel ashamed that I let her go," the artist
said afterwards to Eleanor, "but that awful in-
flexibility just 'got my dander up.' There's
no use trying ! With all the obstacles she has
that cannot be overcome, she will go on creating
others for herself with her beliefs. The kindest
thing I can do, I daresay, is to let her forget her
art dreams and work out her own salvation
according to her law."
Eleanor was inclined to tenderness for Dinah
until she encountered the rigidity of opinion in
the Slinsky household. "They will let her
sacrifice everything to their Shabbas," she com-
plained bitterly to Beth, "and I don't see how
any of us can hope to help her against such
Beth also tried to talk to Dinah and to the
Slinskys, but with only the same results.
In deep distress, Dinah went to Eleanor to
make plain to that dear friend how appreciative
she was of the happiness offered her and which
she felt she could not accept. And Eleanor was
melted by the girl's evident heroism.
"Dinah dear," she said, "I am afraid life is
going to be terribly hard for you. Happiness
does not come to us on our own terms. We have
to reach out after it and grasp it where it lies."
"Perhaps," Dinah ventured, "it is not in-
tended that we should be happy — only that we
should be good."
268 JUST FOLKS
"That," said Eleanor, proudly, "is the differ-
ence between your faith and mine. I be-
lieve — " this was, though Eleanor was not con-
scious of it at the moment, the first time in her
life she had formulated her credo — "that Love
came to transform the old, hard law, and make
happiness not only possible, but an obligation."
When Dinah got up to go, her problem was
not solved, but she felt, somehow, stronger and
better able to meet it. "You help me so much,"
she told Eleanor, at parting, "I wish I could
help you a little."
"It helps me to be able to help you," Eleanor
"But that is not finding your happiness —
that is only learning to get along without it."
Eleanor looked pensive. "Perhaps that was
all that was meant for me," she said softly.
Dinah looked up into her face and smiled —
a respectful but rather inscrutable little smile.
"Perhaps you, too," she said, "even in your
religion, say that too easily."
Eleanor did not answer, then. But after
Dinah was gone, she sat for a long while, look-
ing into the red heart of her log fire. And it
might have been an hour later when she said
aloud, "Perhaps I do" — and sat down to her
desk to write a letter.
It was the next day that Dinah's erstwhile
employer came to see Eleanor. "I've been
JUST FOLKS 269
thinking," she said, and smiled whimsically at
her own slowness in thinking it, "that I was
quite as inflexible as Dinah, with far less reason.
It wouldn't have hurt me, or even have incon-
venienced me, much, to respect her faith; and
it would have hurt her terribly to disregard it.
I — I wonder if she would forgive me and con-
sider coming back to me."
"I think she would," replied Eleanor, "and
if, as time goes on, she comes to feel that any of
the tenets of her faith are non-essential, I be-
lieve she will be quick to compromise. But she
could never be a real artist of any sort if she were
not true to her faith. What a problem life is,
isn't it ? And how we have to learn, each of us,
to grow more and more exacting only about
ourselves, and more and more tenderly unexact-
ing of other people. Dinah has taught me a
To Dinah, a week later — to Dinah, back in
the loved studio — Eleanor wrote : —
"You don't know how I needed you, Dinah
dear. You have opened my eyes to many
things and, among them, to my own happiness.
'The shine' has come back into my life — only
tenfold more glorious — and I think it has come
to stay. If it does, I have you to thank."
"Isn't it wonderful," said Dinah when she
had read this letter to Jacob, convalescing in
270 JUST FOLKS
the hospital, "how God has made the world so
that we are necessary to one another, and even
the — the littlest can help the strong and
Jacob Slinsky's fine face lighted with a look
of tenderness, and he reached out and patted
Dinah's stubby little hands.
"Father," whispered Dinah, "do you believe
that I am — short, because God was angry ?
Or do you think that maybe sometimes he makes
us so in — in Love ?"
"I think, my Dinah," Jacob Slinsky answered,
"that — that only for Love God gave you to
And the sunshine, pouring in life-giving floods
about Jacob as he sat in his wheel-chair, seemed
to his sensitive soul to have a fainter radiance
than Dinah's face as she raised it to kiss him
Mikey returned to the John Worthy School
immediately after his father's funeral ; but
Beth, when she went back with him, told the
Superintendent all the details of the case.
Hitherto, even in the family's direst need,
she had hesitated to ask Mikey's release; be-
cause she knew how hard for him conditions at
home would be, and doubted his ability to en-
dure them and withstand the temptations of
But now, if his indeterminate sentence could
be terminated (on her petition, through the
Juvenile Court, and the sanction of the reform
school superintendent) Mikey could go home
and not be fretted by having his pa to support.
There would be hard conditions for him to face,
but he would not be embittered by having to
give his earnings to provide his pa with money
for drinks and with leisure to keep his feet in the
There had been a desperate antagonism be-
tween Mikey and his pa — an antagonism that
was not greatly softened by Pa's tragic end.
But now that Pa was gone, it might be that
272 JUST FOLKS
the responsibility awaiting Mikey in Henry
Street would be "the making of him."
The Superintendent thought it might. He
was a man of transcendent kindliness — to
many of his prisoners the best friend that they
had ever known. He made it truly a "house of
correction" — that great institution over which
he ruled, and which he preferred to have thus
designated rather than by the term Bridewell
which has become approbrious since the gentle
boy-king, Edward VI, set apart the stately
palace by St. Bride's Well for the correctional
care of the sin-sick — and he held his responsible
office in a way that was a credit to Christian
Accordingly, Beth made her plea for Mikey's
release, and he was taken into the Juvenile
Court to receive the termination of his sentence.
When told that he was free, Mikey seemed
reluctant to go. Beth thought she understood.
Mikey was afraid of a demonstrative welcome
from his mother — afraid he might break down
under it; and he was afraid to face Henry
He hung around Beth until her court duties
were over, then walked with her south on Hal-
sted Street and west to Waller. At her corner
"Shall I go with you, Mikey — would you
rather — ?" she asked appealingly.
JUST FOLKS 273
"Naw," said Mikey, gruffly, "I mane, no'm,
I t'ank ye." And in an instant he was gone.
Beth saw him pull his hat low over his eyes,
and turn up his coat collar, after he left her.
Her heart ached for him, but she knew no one
could help him through this trial. That was the
great pity of it ! What actually happened to
Mikey in " de bean house" was as humane, as
beneficent, as gently correctional as it could
well be; but the stigma of having been under
restraint remained. Mikey went home by way
of the alley. Mrs. Riordan was on her back
porch, and saw him.
"That Casey bye have got out o' jail," she
announced to her family when they were
assembled at supper, "an' I'll lick the first
wan o' youse kids that have annythin' t 9 do
In the Casey kitchen, Mary Casey was bak-
ing potato cakes on the stove-lids, in lieu of a
griddle — Mikey was "awful fond" of potato
cakes — and on a high cake dish of red and
white glass which had been procured with many
trading stamps and was the glory of the house-
hold, was a heap of dainties known as Bismarcks
— something like a cruller with the hole left
out and a splash of red jelly inside — which
Mikey preferred even over and above lemon
When the kitchen door opened and Mary
274 JUST FOLKS
saw her boy, she smothered the cry of joy that
rose to her lips and spoke with a fine casualness
to the returned one, whose frame of mind seemed
to convey itself at once to her quick understand-
"An' how are you ?" she asked, when he had
hung up his hat and set himself down in the
old rocker. Her tone and her manner were such
as she might have used toward a traveller fresh
from some splendid journey.
"A' right," said Mikey, briefly. He had
noted the potato cakes and the Bismarcks in
the red glass dish — and he understood.
One by one the other Caseys came in. Evi-
dently they were all acting under instructions
— not to say threats — from their ma ; for not
one of them alluded in the remotest way to
"de bean house," although no command could
keep out of their round, wondering eyes the un-
certainty as to how their Mikey would seem,
after this strange ordeal he had been through.
Mikey was much sobered by it. But, truth
to tell, Mikey had not needed sobering so much
as he had needed some other things ; for he was
always a dogged rather than a profligate young
Perhaps only a mother-love could feel what
Mikey needed. Certainly the Law had not ; or,
if it had felt the need, it had done nothing ade-
quate to meet it. But Mary knew. She had
JUST FOLKS 275
been talking to Beth about her hopes, these
Mikey had an ambition. No one but his
mother knew it, and she never could tell just
how she found it out, but it was probably by
suspicion. For to suspect Mikey of something,
and then to watch for confirmation, was the
only way to find out anything about him ; he
never confided in any one — he didn't know
how ! But however she knew it, Mary was
aware that Mikey had an ambition.
"I dunno," she confessed when telling Beth
about it, "but I better l'ave off tryin' t' git
jobs fer anny wan, whin I t'ink what happened
t' Pat Casey in the job I got 'im sint to. But
times ag'in I belave 'twas Providince done that.
Mebbe it wasn't niver intinded fer him t' take
no chance t' live right — on'y t' die splindid.
But I want t' git Mikey a chance t' live, poor
bye ! In all his life he ain't got, manny times,
t' do what he wanted t' do ; an' he won't git it
manny times, I'm t'inkin'. So if he could git
this wan ambition, just now whin he do nade it
so, 'twould be an awful hilp t' him."
The ambition of Mikey was to drive a horse.
"Anny kind av a horse," Mary opined, "ixcipt
a saw-horse er a clo'es-horse. Iver since he
was a bit av a bye, he've been that crazy 'bout
horses, you wouldn' belave."
Beth told the factory inspector and he said
276 JUST FOLKS
he thought something could be done to help
Mikey realize his ambition; but he could tell
better when he had seen and talked with Mikey.
It was this fine hope that Mary had, treasured
in her heart, when Mikey came home; and
while they sat around the supper table — she
and her brood of six — she tried to lead up to
the subject on her mind.
"Sure, we kin have Bismarcks ivry wake,
whin Mikey git t' workin' an' bringin' in all
that money," she began. Mikey said nothing.
"I'm hearin' of a gintleman," she went on,
"that was askin' Miss Tully did she t'ink you'd
be willin' t' drive a horse fer some wan he know."
Mikey's gaze was fixed on his plate, but a red
spot appeared on each of his pale cheeks, and
by this Mary knew he was excited. "D'ye
t'ink ye'd wish t' try ?" she asked, as casually
as she could.
"I dunno," said Mikey, "but I might see."
His mother noticed that, although she pressed
another Bismarck on him, he could eat no more.
Which was the way she knew what emotions
must be working in Mikey's soul.
The factory inspector got Mikey the coveted
job. It was a job with a horse — which was
very satisfying; and if Mikey made good at
that, there was every reason to hope that some
day he would get a team to drive — which was
a splendid incentive. If the kingdoms of the
JUST FOLKS 277
earth had been offered to Mikey, he would have
chosen this particular one which was now his.
He had to get up very early in the mornings
— before six — and he was hardly ever home for
supper much before eight; so that by the time
he had eaten the hearty meal his appetite
craved and had read (with a new facility, after
his year at the School) some parts of the evening
paper, it was time to go to bed — and Mikey
was glad to go. His long hours kept him safe
from "de gang," and the love of his job filled
The horse Mikey drove was named Ginger,
for the same reason, apparently, that fat New-
foundland dogs which never stray from their
dooryards are almost always named Rover,
and fidgety little black-and-tans are frequently
called Fido. And Mikey loved Ginger as other
boys love a girl sweetheart — just as shyly and
just as idealizingly. When he got up in the
mornings and dressed in the dark, he thought
how soon he should see Ginger — and was
cheered; and when he went home evenings,
tired and with no prospect of any variety or
boyish fun, he was happy because he knew that
in the morning he could come back to Ginger.
Mikey was almost demonstrative with Ginger —
when no one was by to see or hear — and Gin-
ger, who was not used to deep devotion but
was none the less hungry for it therefore, wel-
278 JUST FOLKS
corned Mikey's timid love-making with un-
So Mikey was really happy, for the first time
in his life; and the Caseys were very comfort-
able, for the first time in their lives ; when sun-
dry persons known as "freight-handlers" decided
to strike for shorter hours and longer pay.
One evening, after the freight-handlers had
been "out" for several days, Mikey came home
with a sick heart. He was not quieter than
usual — that would hardly have been possible —
but Mary knew from the difference in his step
as he came along the board walk, that something
was the matter. She thought he had lost his
job, but she dreaded to ask. Mikey sat up very
late, that night, reading the papers.
The next morning he went to work as usual,
and that evening when he came home he was
not passively depressed but actively distressed ;
witness, a certain glitter in his usually apathetic
eyes, and a deep-red flush in his sallow cheeks
which wind and weather had not yet tanned.
Inarticulate Mikey ! The things he could not
say had a way of expressing themselves in tell-
tale color in his face. And somehow, though
the color was always the same, any one who was
at all alert could tell what emotion it signified.
Mary knew. And to-night she knew it meant
excitement which had in it resentment and
angry purpose. "Mikey do be plottin' some-
JUST FOLKS 279
thin' that he dread t' do," she put it to herself.
And it was all she could do to keep from ques-
tioning him. But experience had taught her
that to question Mikey was to set him stub-
bornly on guard against any possible leakage of
In complete silence, but evidently with sup-
pressed excitement, Mikey ate his breakfast
next morning, and was off — tending to set at
ease Mary's fear that his job was lost. But all
day long her heart was heavy with a nameless
dread. That night she kept Mikey's supper
on the stove till nine o'clock, silencing the
children's questioning — but not her own ! —
by saying "he mus' be workin' late." And when
the children were gone to bed, she sat in the
kitchen holding her work-worn hands and trying
not to be afraid.
At length, Mikey came ; and at sight of him,
Mary's heart gave a great bound of relief.
"Yer workin' late," she said; "have ye had
annythin' t' ate ?" She hoped Mikey wouldn't
know she had been sitting up for him.
"I ain't workin' no more," he answered
dully, as he held his cold hands over the stove.
Mary didn't know what to say. "Didn' ye
like yer job ?" she managed, at last, to falter.
Mikey couldn't trust himself to answer that;
so he stood silent, for a moment, holding out
his hands over the scarce-warm lids. Mary
280 JUST FOLKS
lifted off one of the covers and exposed the bed
of soft-coal fire. "I'll have t' stop kapein' a
fire all night, pritty soon," she murmured; so
that if Mikey wanted to consider the talk about
his lost job at an end, he could.
But evidently Mikey wanted to talk.
"Theer's a strike on," he said sullenly.
"Fer th' love av Hivin ! wheer ?"
"Here. The freight-handlers has struck, an'
yeste'day the roads put on strike-breakers —
scabs — an' to-day the teamsters refused t'
haul freight that scabs has handled."
"Air you wan o' thim ?"
"An' fer no grievance o' yer own, you've
lost yer job ?"
"I call that pritty tough."
"In wan way, 'tis. But agin — "
"Ah, I know all that talk 'bout stickin' to-
gether ! It sound pritty whin yer sayin' it
— like all kind av war — but whin ye come to
do it, 'tis an ugly business. Min gits together
an' talks about brotherhood an' war; an'
women an' childern stays at home an' shivers an'
pays the pinalty. Don't I know ? Ain't I seen ?
Strikes manes idle min an' mischief; idle min
an' busy saloons ; idle min an' full pawnshops ;
idle min an' hungry childern an' women wid
hivy hearts. Theer seem t' be an awful lot av
JUST FOLKS 281
law 'bout some t'ings ; wouldn' ye suppose theer'd
be a law t' settle differunces widout goin' t'
Mikey listened impatiently. "Ye don't un-
derstand" he reiterated doggedly — voicing the
eternal argument of youth against age, and of
age against youth.
Earlier in that same evening when Mary
sat waiting for Mikey, Hannah Wexsmith
climbed the steep, dark stairs of the house on
Maxwell Street. When she reached the top
of the first flight, a door opened and Mamie
Gooch, with the fretting baby in her arms,
asked : —
"Did ye git an evenin' paper ?'*
"Yes ; ye kin look at it while I'm lightin'
the hall lamp."
Before attending to the hall light to-night,
however, Hannah lit the lamp in her own dark
little kitchen, so that Mamie Gooch could look
at the paper. There was pardonable diplomacy
in this, for it would have been too much to ask
of human nature to let Mrs. Gooch carry that
precious penny paper into her own domain,
whence it would never have issued again until
it had been read through — murders, strikes,
jokes, recipes, evening story, and all — all but
editorials and diplomatic news and other inex-
282 JUST FOLKS
Mamie Gooch's concern with the paper to-
night, however, was specific; she looked to it,
not, as usual, to break the monotony of a long,
fretful day, but for assurance that the morrow
would not be a day of sharp anxiety compared
to which tedium would be heaven. She stood
beneath Hannah Wexsmith's light and scanned
the strike news eagerly.
"My God !" she cried presently, "they're or-
dered out." She dropped the paper and covered
her eyes with her free hand.
"I knew it would come," she moaned; "an'
us with sickness all winter, an' behindhand
with everything. He told me this mornin'
he was afraid it would come; an' 'God help us
if it does,' he says, 'but I got to stand by the
union, whatever happens.'"
"The unions is all the poor men has," ven-
tured Hannah. "You wouldn't have him leave
it, would you ?"
"No," feebly, "I don't s'pose I would, but it's
awful hard, this goin' out when he has a good
place, an' nothin' agin the bosses, an' nothin'
to gain if his side wins."
"You ought to be proud that you're the wife
of a man that's willin' to make sacrifices for his
fellows. Slosson says that's the great thing
about unions ; they show how all lab'ring men
has one cause, he says." Slosson was Hannah's
JUST FOLKS 283
"Well, I'd be willin' fer him to make sacrifices
out o' sympathy fer the freight-handlers if we
had anythin' to sacrifice, but we ain't ; we got
all we can do to get along an' catch up with what
we're owin', at best. An' this means no money
comin' in for dear knows how long, an' prob'ly
his job lost, an' maybe him hurt an' laid up, if
all the papers say about riots is true."
"Slosson says the papers lie awful about the
strikes ; they're all fer the rich men, he says."
"That may be," angrily, "but it's the likes
of Slosson that begins all the trouble. He ain't
got nobody dependin' on him, an' nothing to do
with his money but drink it up, an' it's nothin'
to him but a picnic to go on a strike ; he can
make you wait fer his rent money, an' the union'll
give him enough to buy his drinks. No wonder
he can talk loud in favor of going out to help the
freight-handlers. No wonder he can shout,
'Let's strike' ; an' get my man, that's home that
very minute, mindin' the sick baby so I can finish
my ironin', out of his good job that he likes an'
is satisfied with !"
Hannah stiffened offendedly when her lodger
was accused, and Mrs. Gooch took herself off
to her own kitchen, moving wearily, the baby
still fretting miserably in her arms.
Hannah lit the tiny oil-stove and put her kettle
on ; her supper was to be a light one, consisting
of a cup of tea, without milk, and a thing called
284 JUST FOLKS
a "rusk," purchasable for a penny and eatable
without butter; but she spread one-half of her
table neatly, with one of her red-and-white
checked table-covers folded double, laid primly
out her cup and saucer and plate, knife and fork
and spoon, and in the centre of the cloth set the
red glass salt-cellar and blue glass pepper-shaker
that were the pride of her heart. Hannah always
set them forth whether she needed them or not,
just as to-night she supplied her place with
the pathetically unnecessary knife and fork.
While her tea was brewing (Hannah liked a
strong infusion, and when one had to be sparing
of leaves, the only alternative was to be generous
of boiling), she read her paper, striving, in her
slow, indecisive way, to grasp the movements of
the day's battles, but mainly intent on finding in
print some account of those stupendous services
which Slosson was, by his own admission, render-
ing the teamsters' cause.
The newspaper reports were most confusing,
though ; she could make little out of them, and
nowhere could she find reference to Slosson.
"The rich men won't let the papers tell about
him," she reflected.
Then, as if that she might not lack understand-
ing of the war that was being waged between
labor and capital, there was a heavy step on the
stairs ; it was Gooch's, and there was distress
as well as weariness in the leaden shuffle of his
JUST FOLKS 285
feet. She heard their kitchen door open, and
Mamie Gooch exclaim, "Is it true?" Then
there was a sharp expression of despair, audible
above the baby's crying, and the door closed.
Hannah felt "awful sorry" for the Gooches.
During that winter when he had been so long
laid up with inflammatory rheumatism and the
new baby had come to the household, they
had got deep in debt — the kind of debt out
of which hardly any one ever escapes : debt
to the loan shark. It was " ter'ble hard," Hannah
reflected, for Joe Gooch to be told he couldn't
work, when he needed work so much ; to be told
that he couldn't work and that he'd be shot if
he tried to. Slosson had informed Hannah of
his intentions. What with his terrible prowess
and sleepless activities, "this here strike" was
going to be kept up no matter how long it
took to bring "the rich men" to terms. "No
damned cowards was going to be allowed to quit
Suppose — in Hannah's mind the struggle was
narrowed to these two men who worked at the
same calling and dwelt side by side above Mona-
han's grocery — suppose Gooch should weaken,
and Slosson should kill Gooch !
Staggered by the possibilities which to her, in
her tiny mental world, were probabilities, Hannah
cleared away after her frugal meal and went
downstairs to her station on the single step, in
286 JUST FOLKS
the shadow of Monahan's sidewalk display. It
had been raining, and the sidewalk was sloppy ;
but Hannah felt that she could not endure her
agitating thoughts in the loneliness of her tomb-
About eight o'clock, Joe Gooch crowded past
her and went toward Halsted Street. Hannah
felt sure he was going to the union headquarters,
and that he was going to protest, and she
trembled in fear of an immediate encounter
with Slosson. The smaller of her renting rooms
being vacant, and Slosson gone on a strike,
Hannah had her own worries, too; and the
problem of the future, as it concerned her rent
and her occasional "rusk," was terrible enough
without this other element of fear about Slosson
Joe bought a paper of a boy on the corner,
making Hannah regretful that she had not
offered him hers — for pennies would be pre-
cious, now — and swung on to a northbound car.
Hannah did not see him get on the car. It would
never have occurred to her that he would afford
himself carfare; feminine and masculine econo-
mies will always be mysteries to each other.
Joe Gooch, however, if he was faint of heart,
was not going to protest the orders of his union
yet, though his spirit was heavy because he
could not yield to the union's demands with a
better grace. Nothing could shake his earnest
JUST FOLKS 287
conviction that the union was the workingman's
only hope; and though he doubted the justice
of this particular conflict and could not doubt,
as he would have liked to doubt, the charges of
foul play that were being laid on the labor leaders,
there never was any possible course for him but
that which his union dictated. It was hard,
God knew ; but when was war ever easy ? And
what cause, of all that men had ever fought for,
could have been so near and dear to the men
who fought and the women and children who
starved and suffered, as this great cause the
unions stood for ? It was hard to leave Mamie
crying; to think, as he must think, of the
harassing weeks to come. But what would you ?
This was war !
The paper Gooch bought was full of the law-
lessness of the strikers, picturing them as blood-
thirsty miscreants seeking to inaugurate a reign
of terror, and with a gesture of angry disgust he
threw it on the floor of the car and trampled it
Down town, he drifted restlessly from one spot
where the conflict came to an issue, to another.
At the mouth of an alley wherein were the
shipping platforms of a big mercantile house,
Gooch saw Slosson, who told him it was be-
lieved this house meant to move a lot of goods
with non-union niggers driving, that night.
"Pm on to them," laughed Slosson, between
288 JUST FOLKS
puffs of a big, bad cigar. "I'd like to see a
wagon leave this alley to-night."
There were a dozen other pickets near by,
and across the street as many police lounged
and waited, a patrol standing ready for emer-
Gooch turned away from his neighbor in
"Acts as if the whole thing was on his shoul-
ders," he muttered to an acquaintance he had
picked up in the course of his drifting; "an' it's
fellers like him, with their cheap talk and no
responsibilities, that has got hundreds of us that's
anxious to work into all this trouble. It's not
the unions that's wrong; it's men like Slosson,
who get control of the unions. They'll bring us a
bad name with the public, with their loud talk an'
their high-handedness. An' by drivin' us into
fights we can't win, they'll get us the reputation
of losin', an' that's a bad thing for any manor
lot of men to have. Yes, sir ; men like Slosson is
killin' the unions, an' we're standin' around
helpless an' not figurin' at all !"
Gooch found no lack of sympathizers in this
view. Men he stopped to talk with in the streets,
men he got into conversation with in one or two
saloons into which he dropped for a glass of beer,
echoed his sentiments. "From the d — news-
papers," he told one man he met, "you'd think
every teamster that's out was so crazy to strike,
JUST FOLKS 289
they couldn't be held back. But you know,
an' I know, that there's more strikin' against
their will than otherwise. On'y we're keepin'
still, out o' loyalty to our union, an' nothin's
said about us. An' the other fellers is throwin'
rocks an' gettin' into the papers."
It happened that the chance acquaintance to
whom Gooch had confided his opinion of Slos-
son had a misguided zeal for the cause, or a
sneak's desire to seem zealous at small cost,
and felt constrained to tell Slosson what his
neighbor had said, with a suggestion that Gooch
might need watching.
Slosson gratefully bought the man three
drinks as reward for this information, so valu-
able to "the leaders of this here fight — " mean-
ing Slosson, who had rewarded so many faithful
that day, always courteously drinking with
them, of course, that by this time he began to
seem to himself the only leader worth consider-
Gooch was up, heating water to soothe the
baby's colic, when Slosson came staggering up
the stairs, knocking his feet noisily on every
step and cursing loudly at the darkness.
"It's nothin' to him," reflected Gooch, bitterly,
as he heard the door of Hannah's front room
slam, "that my kid's sick, an' I dassent spend
a cent fer medicine."
The strike wore on ; but it was a losing fight
for the teamsters and the freight-handlers.
Non-union men were handling freight; the
hoped-for sympathetic strike did not materialize ;
and a boy "widout principles" was driving
Mikey sat at home, a great deal of the time
— as if fearful to trust himself elsewhere in
idleness — and Mary did everything she could
to encourage him. She did not approve of the
strike, but she could see that, for some reason
or another, Mikey felt in honor bound to sup-
port it, else he had never made for it so supreme
a sacrifice as Ginger. And she knew that what-
ever it was in Mikey which made him give up
the job he loved, it must be dealt gently with,
just now. Even if it was an unwise sentiment,
it was the alternative for despair and a slipping
back into old ways of the days before "de bean
It was hard to make the children understand.
Johnny, in particular, was unsympathetic.
"Aw," he said bitterly, "Mikey's goin' t' be
jes' like Pa — wan o' thim that's got such gran'
princ'ples he can't work."
JUST FOLKS 291
"Hold yer tongue agin yer brother!" com-
manded Mary, who always took up the cudgels
of defence for any of her family that the others
maligned. "He didn' give up that job widout
some dape rayson. If he was diffrunt from
what he is, we might try t' change his raysonin'.
But he's wan o' thim that don't change aisy, an'
almos' niver changes ixcipt fer the worse if ye
try t' drive him. Thim quiet kind, that don't
let hem ner haw out o' thim, is mos'ly that
way. I don' blame Mikey. I tuck me own
disapp'intmints that way before he — whin he
was born. By an' by I l'arned better; mebbe
he will, whin he've had as much poundin' t' git
sinse into him as what I've had. Mebbe he
won't l'arn. Annyway, you l'ave him be, if
you don' want him back wid the gang that got
him put up before."
It was a pity Mikey could not have over-
heard his mother's defence ; it might have helped
to hearten him.
Beth Tully had gone home to see her mother
and to take a much-needed rest ; so she was not
there to appeal to. The factory inspector
could not be expected to regard sympathetically
Mikey's treatment of the position recently got
for him ; so Mikey dared not ask there for an-
other. He tried, as best he could, to get some
kind of work — but without success. Nobody,
it seemed, wanted a boy out of the Reform
2 9 2 JUST FOLKS
School. The Law had told Mikey, when it
"put him away," that it was doing this for
Mikey's own good. But Mikey found himself
branded almost as effectually as if with a peni-
tentiary sentence; and it further embittered
that young soul of his which had never known
much else but bitterness. Undoubtedly there
were in town — though Mikey did not know it
— several thousand over-busy but warm-hearted
employers of labor who, if Mikey's case had been
sympathetically presented to them, would have
said: "Certainly ! Bring the boy over and I'll
see that he gets a chance." But Beth was
away, they were afraid to ask Eleanor, and
Mikey never got to those busy men ; he didn't
get any job.
"T'ings is all agin me !" he told his mother,
one night, in a sudden burst of despair.
"T'ings is not all agin ye!" Mary assured
him, trying to believe her own assurance. "I've
lived longer'n you, an' I tell ye, whin t'ings
git so hard ye t'ink they can't git worse, they
always turn, just thin, an' git better."
But it was hard times in the Henry Street
cellar, and Mary had finally to have recourse
to what the children dreaded, and with good
reason. She went down town to scrub. This
meant leaving home every afternoon soon after
the children got back from school. It meant
that Midget and Mollie had to "mind" little
JUST FOLKS 293
Annie and put her to bed; that they had to
cook, as best they could, the supper their mother
left ready for them ; it meant the difference
between irksome responsibility and that care-
freeness which Mary was prone to give her
children whenever she could, on the plea that
they'd better play while they could — for they'd
get little enough of it all the rest of their lives.
The night Mikey came home from fruitless
job-hunting and found his mother gone to
scrub, something bitterer than had ever been
there before came into his young face — and
stayed. It wasn't the scrubbing that hurt; he
was inured to the idea of his mother as a patient
drudge. It was that this seemed to him the
acknowledgment of his defeat. It wasn't any
use ! Even his mother had given up hoping
and gone to scrub.
It was one o'clock when Mary came stumbling
along the uneven board walk of the pitchy black
passageway between her tenement and the next.
Mikey was sitting up, in the old wooden rocker
drawn close by the stove whereon he had the
kettle boiling to make his mother some tea.
"Ma," he said, as she steeped her tea, "some-
thin' is wrong ! I can't stand it no longer."
"What d'ye mane ?" she cried, setting the
kettle dowm sharply.
"I dunno what I mane," he answered dully,
"on'y I can't stan' much more."
294 JUST FOLKS
"That's what we all t'ink whin we're young,"
she soothed, "but theer ain't no limit t' what
a body kin stand. Don't / know that ? D'ye
know how I've done it ? I've toP mesilf I
could surely manage t' stan' wan more day;
an' whin that day was done, I'd say I'd make
out t' stan' another before I'd turn coward.
Theer's more than me has got t'rough life be
playin' that little game wid thimsilves, I'm
thinkin'. Yer young t' have t' l'arn it, Mikey
bye. An' I'm sorry fer ye. But ye needn' tell
me yer pa's son is goin' t' be no coward."
" Dyin's easy," observed Mikey, briefly. " It's
livin' that's too hard fer most."
"I know," said Mary, "theer's a lot in that.
But go t' bed, me bye. 'Tis wonderful how
much more wan fale like standin', in the mornin'."
Meanwhile, acute distress reigned on the
floor above Monahan's grocery. The Gooches
had kept soul and body together on the pit-
tance doled out from the union fund, though it
sufficed neither for rent, nor shoes, nor medicine.
But Hannah Wexsmith was in despair ; she had
succeeded in renting her small room for a dollar
and a half a week, but Slosson was now some
twenty-odd dollars "behind-hand," two months'
rent was overdue, and "rusk" for luncheon was
no longer to be thought of ; she could not afford
even to buy an evening paper. Evicting Slosson
JUST FOLKS 29s
had never occurred to Hannah. Had he not
been lodging with her for eight years — ever
since Wexsmith died ? Small use to argue that
she might do better with her swell front room,
with its trailing starched Nottingham, its "en-
largements" of Wexsmith and herself, its folding-
bed disguised as a tin mantel, and its two patent
rockers. She had small cause to love Slosson,
but she was accustomed to him, and Hannah
shrank from nothing so much as from change.
"You could sell that for more than enough
to pay your rent," the landlord's collector had
said, nodding at an old kitchen dresser which
had come with Wexsmith's mother from over-
seas and was, though Hannah did not dream it,
a handsome and valuable bit of antique.
Astonished, hurt, she looked at the dresser
and shook her head. She would do almost any-
thing to pay the rent, but — "Where would I
keep my cups ?" she said.
No more could she conceive her widowed,
self-supporting life without Slosson; so Slosson
stayed, and more and more hours out of each
day Hannah sat in the big Jesuit church and
prayed that the Mother of God would help her
pay the rent ; she never obtruded upon Heaven
the inconsiderable fact that she was hungry.
As the strike dragged its weary length along,
looking every day more and more hopeless for
the strikers — ugly tales of "graft" filling the
296 JUST FOLKS
prints and the air meanwhile — the fund avail-
able for strikers' maintenance grew more and
more tragically inadequate to keep hunger and
eviction writs at bay. Sympathizing members
of other unions were faithfully paying their
weekly tithes into the treasury of the distressed,
but there was a hitch somewhere. The rumors
about the dissipation and extravagance of the
leaders might or might not be true, but the loan
sharks and pawnbrokers were waxing rich, the
number of children clamoring for employment,
of women besieging sweatshops for work, had
After two weeks, Gooch's dole had been cut
down from seven dollars to five; now, for a
fortnight, none at all had been paid. Some one
hanging about union headquarters on the same
errand as himself had reported to Gooch, when
he tried in vain to collect his due, that Slosson
had been instrumental in cutting it off. "He
says there's little enough for the faithful, with-
out givin' any to them that's no love fer the
union," the man said.
"Love fer the union!" cried Gooch. "My
God ! If I ain't got it, I'd like to know what's
keepin' me from killin' that Slosson any day ?
This strike's nothin' but a long picnic to him ;
he ain't payin' no rent to his poor, starvin' little
landlady, and the union's keepin' him in drinks
an' free lunches, an' he's got no work to do —
JUST FOLKS 297
no wonder he can talk big and jeer at me because
I want to go back to work. I'd a' killed him
long ago, if it wasn't fer bringin' a bad name
on my union an' our fight."
Lean, haggard, heavy-hearted, Gooch dragged
himself home to tell Mamie of his non-success
and consult with her as to what extreme measure
they might take to get a little food and to hold
the loan shark at bay.
Gooch's mind, like poor Hannah's, had travelled
over and over and over, so many weary times,
the little round of possibilities, that the process
had finally become mechanical, defeating its own
ends. Dazed, unable to think, he climbed the
stairs. It was supper-time, and it took all the
man's courage to enter his home empty-handed.
The kitchen was dark, dark as a pocket,
though the great towers of the Jesuit church
were outlined against a gorgeous sunset as he
came by, and it would be two hours yet ere the
summer day was done.
"Mamie must have gone out," he said to
himself, remembering bitterly that they had had
no oil for a week and that the last of their
candles was all but gone. "Perhaps they're in
Mrs. Wexsmith's." But they weren't. Mrs.
Wexsmith had no light either, and was sitting
by her open kitchen door, that the feeble beacon
in the hall, which the landlord supplied, might
mitigate her gloom.
298 JUST FOLKS
Yes, she had heard Mrs. Gooch go out with
the two children an hour ago, but she didn't
speak, and Hannah had no idea where they
might have gone. For a few minutes Gooch
sat talking with his neighbor, then went back
to his own rooms. An almost overmastering
impulse to flee them and seek refuge anywhere
came to him, but he had never learned to shirk
responsibility. Mamie and the kids would be
coming home soon to a dark, supperless house;
at least he would be there when they came;
perhaps, together, he and Mamie might devise
something to be done.
An hour passed — two ; grown very nervous,
Gooch got up and "borrowed" the hall light
while he hunted for the bit of candle left from
last night. As he hunted, his eye fell upon a
scrap of paper : —
"I have taken the children and gone.
Gone ! Where ? Crazed, he thought of the
river, of the lake ; tried to think of other places
whither the maddened betook themselves ; but
his brain refused to serve him. Habit, the habit
of careful years, made him set the lighted lamp
back in its socket; then he stumbled, like a
mortally-stricken thing seeking a quiet place to
die, into his black kitchen and shut the door.
The sense of time was lost to him ; how long
he sat, he could not know. But the weakness
JUST FOLKS 299
of long hunger kept him dulled, if it kept him
inactive, and his sufferings were not poignant;
he hadn't strength for poignancy.
He didn't hear Hannah come in from church,
where the lights were few but free and sufficient
for prayer. He didn't hear the lodger of the
little room come home. But at some time before
the hall light had flickered out, he heard on the
stairs the staggering, stumbling step of Slosson.
As if he had been listening for it — perhaps he
had, he wasn't conscious as to that — Gooch
got up and opened his door. As Slosson neared
the top, he raised his eyes and saw Gooch, the
sickly ray from the hall light, with its worn re-
flector, falling full on the white face of a madman.
"Geddout o' my way," ordered the "leader,"
imperiously, balancing himself with difficulty
and making nice calculations for the top step.
For answer, an arm shot out, and a heavy
fist landed accurately beneath Slosson's chin.
There was a cry, a succession of bumps, then
Hannah Wexsmith's door opened, and she
stood framed in it, a grotesque little figure in a
coarse, skimp nightgown buttoned at .the throat
with a big white china button, her crimping pins
looking like horns standing up from her head;
only the last lengths of terror could have driven
Hannah Wexsmith so attired into the view of
any human creature.
300 JUST FOLKS^
Gooch looked, in the wan light, the most
startled of the three persons present ; Hannah's
other lodger seemed rather annoyed by the dis-
turbance than concerned with its outcome. It
never occurred either to him or to Hannah that
Gooch had more to do with the tragedy than
they themselves. Hannah had lost uncounted
hours' sleep in the expectation that Slosson
would tumble down those stairs and be killed.
Hurriedly she lit a candle in Slosson's room
(he never needed more, and it was all she could
do to provide oil for the lodger who paid and
demanded) and commanded the tin mantel to
become a bed, whereon the limp form that
Gooch and the lodger were carrying upstairs
might be laid.
There was a doctor at the corner, and it was
but a few minutes until he was there, pronounc-
ing the injuries to include a broken arm and a
skull fracture, probably fatal.
"Fell, I suppose?" interrogated the doctor,
perfunctorily. Slosson's intoxication was so evi-
dent that there seemed but one way for him to
have come by this accident.
"Yes," assented Hannah, adding, as if in
sufficient extenuation, "he've had th' failin'
these many years, an' I'm expectin' him to do
this ever since he come to rent of me."
Gooch, still only half comprehending what
was going on, sat in one of Hannah's patent
JUST FOLKS 301
rockers, his head in his hands ; the doctor
thought him drunk, too.
"Was he," nodding toward Gooch, "with
"No, oh, no ! he lives in the rear." Then, it
suddenly occurring to her, "Mis' Gooch got
home all right, didn't she, Mr. Gooch ? "
Gooch lifted his haggard face and shook his
head in a despairing negative.
"Fer the love of mercy !" cried Hannah, for-
getting Slosson for a moment.
The doctor was writing something which
would doubtless be needed in a death certificate,
when there was a sound of the street-door open-
ing and of stumbling steps on the pitch-black
stairway. The hall light had gone out, and
Hannah, excitedly unmindful yet of her strange
attire, seized the candle and hurried to the
head of the stairs.
Gooch was close behind her, his mind, which
had not grasped the significance of anything
since Mamie's note, suddenly alert again and
full of terror. The glimmer of the candle
faintly revealed Mamie struggling up the stairs,
the baby in one arm, and the other hand direct-
ing the uncertain steps of little Clarence, half
dead with sleepiness.
"Mis' Gooch!" cried Hannah, the feeble
beacon quivering in her hand, "in God's name,
where you bin ?"
302 JUST FOLKS
"Come here with that light," called the
doctor, impatiently, mentally cursing the pitchy
dark and these people who acted so strangely.
"Where's your lamps ?" he demanded of
Hannah, when she returned with the candle.
The lodger produced his, lit it, and the doctor
ordered it held for him while he made his way
downstairs to telephone for an ambulance.
"Then go back and sit with him till I come,"
he said, and was off, stumbling over the reunited
Gooches in the hall.
By the light of his departing they made their
way into their own black kitchen, and when
Hannah followed them with Slosson's candle,
she found Gooch sobbing violently, his head on
Mamie's shoulder. The baby was still in the
crook of that much-enduring arm, and Clarence
had stretched his utterly fagged little body
on the floor. Mamie, meanwhile, was explain-
ing : —
"When we went, Clarence was cryin' fer his
supper," she said, "an' I knew there wouldn't
be none for him, an' the baby was frettin' terrible,
an' I was just wore out. I can't stand it no
more, thinks I, an' I'll go — mebby to the lake,
mebby to ask some one for somethin' fer these
childern to eat, whose pa wants to work an'
dassent. Then I thought o' Shea an' them that's
said to be makin' their big money out o' this
strike, an' are livin' grand in hotels while we
JUST FOLKS 303
starve. An' I'll go to Shea, thinks I, an' ast
him what he's got to say to Clarence when he
cries fer his supper. So I walked all the way to
the Briggs House, carryin' the baby here, an'
draggin' Clarence by the hand, an' there I set
an' waited to see his nibs until twelve o'clock.
He wasn't in to supper, they said, an' so I said I'd
wait. I had to wait!" shrilly, "I couldn't
'a' walked back if I'd 'a' wanted to. Clarence
fretted hisself to sleep, smellin' the supper in
the restyraunt, an' I was all wore out 'n' couldn't
no more 'a' got myself back home, lettin' alone
the kids, than I could 'a' flew. So there was
nothin' to do but wait, an' when they wanted to
put me out, I wouldn't go, an' told 'em why.
So they leaved me stay there an' wait fer him,
but he didn't come, an' when it got twelve
o'clock some fellers that was settin' 'round took
up a little money amongst 'em an' bought me an'
Clarence somethin' to eat an' gave me money to
ride home an' to buy a few little things. Was
you scared about me ?" she finished, unable to
help enjoying the drama of the situation.
"Scared?" Gooch lifted his head. "I was
mad, Mamie — loony, insane. An'," — realiza-
tion returning to him in a cruel flash — "My
God ! what I done ! I knocked that Slosson
An exclamation of horror from Hannah seemed
their first intimation of her presence, and Gooch,
304 JUST FOLKS
looking at her, shuddered at the accusation in
"Is he goin' to die ?" he asked.
"The doctor said he might."
"Good God, Mamie, then Pm a murderer!"
At two o'clock the ambulance came to take
Slosson to the County Hospital.
"Anything to go with him ?" asked one of the
Hannah flushed as she answered in the nega-
tive ; in eight years this subject had not ceased
to be a sore point with her. In all the years
of his stay with her, there had never been a time
when Slosson, closing behind him the door of
Hannah's best room, had left in it a single posses-
sion of his own, to the extent of a collar-button.
Everything in the world that he owned, Slosson
carried on his back or in his pockets. He never
bought any clean or new clothes until those
he was wearing refused to do duty for another
day. And when he bought new, he came
home without the old. No persuasion of Han-
nah's could induce him to own even an extra pair
of socks, though she offered to wash and darn
them ; and such a thing as a night-shirt was not
to be thought of for an instant. Only the
force of habit or lack of initiative to go else-
where brought Slosson back and back to the
best room for eight years ; so far as the anchor-
JUST FOLKS 305
age of possessions was concerned, any room in
Chicago was as much his home.
No, he had never been married that she knew
of, Hannah told the ambulance attendant who
interrogated her, pencil and entrance blank in
hand. He had a brother, she believed, living
in or near Three Oaks, Michigan; that was
the only relative she had ever heard of. And
he belonged to the teamsters' union — to the
wholesale delivery branch — and they would
pay for his care or his burying. His age was
forty-four, and he had "the failin'," and he had
— here Hannah crossed herself, but was unable
to exorcise visions of her soul in everlasting
torment — fallen downstairs while drunk, as
she had always feared he would.
When the ambulance had gone, Hannah tip-
toed out of the room as respectfully as if it were
still Slosson's, and betook herself and the rem-
nant of candle to the stifling, unventilated
closet where she had her bed.
It was a hot, muggy night at the end of June,
and no cool of approaching dawn had found its
way to Blue Island Avenue. But it was not the
heat Hannah minded, as she sank on her knees
to pray ; it was not her old, familiar perplexity
about the rent. It was a new terror, and such
as drove her almost mad to contemplate.
Morning found her still on her knees, stiff
with cramp and fatigue, but praying, praying;
306 JUST FOLKS
and ever the words of Gooch rang like a knell in
her ears : "Good God, Mamie, then I'm a mur-
derer!" A murderer! And she had lied to
shield him !
At five o'clock she was in the church en-
treating confession, startling the stolid German
priest with her anguished countenance and
manner of great guilt.
At six oclock she climbed the stairs again.
Part of the confessor's advice had been: "Go
home and make yourself a good stiff cup of black
coffee ; you're so weak you can't think. Then
you must see if your neighbor won't confess his
crime. If he does, it isn't likely he'll get much
punishment from any court — not in the circum-
stances — even if the man dies. But if he doesn't
confess and take what's coming to him, your
neighbor'll be a wretched man to the day of his
death. Try to make him tell ; it'll be better for
him to tell than for you to tell on him. But if
he won't tell, and there's an inquest or examina-
tion, you must tell what you heard this man
Hannah was unable to obey about the coffee,
but she had a little tea and made herself as strong
a cup of this as she could. While she was drink-
ing it, she heard the Gooches stirring in their
kitchen. A few moments later their door opened.
The sickening sound of sobbing came to Hannah,
mingled with the crying of children. Then
JUST FOLKS 307
Gooch went downstairs, and the street-door
closed behind him, while Mamie, with a wild
cry of despair, came and threw herself into Han-
The night shift at Maxwell Street Station was
yawning through the last tedious hours of duty
when Gooch walked up to the desk and an-
nounced in a quiet, determined voice : —
"I've murdered a man."
The sergeant looked up, interested ; no mere
tale of theft or assault, this, or story of some
one missing ; this was " real business."
Gooch needed little questioning to draw forth
his story, which he told with evident straight-
forwardness and no attempt at extenuation.
There had been "bad blood" between him
and Slosson since the beginning of the strike,
he explained, and then when he heard that
Slosson had kept him from getting his weekly
dole and said he was unfaithful to the union,
and the children cried for food, Gooch knew he
was going to hurt Slosson. Finally, Mamie
took the kids and left ; that was the last straw.
"I thought she had drowned herself, or some-
thing like that, an' I was crazy. I never could
'a' dreamed she was only down to see Shea — "
"What's that ?" One of the roundsmen who
had been reading a morning paper sat forward
in his arm-chair. Gooch repeated.
308 JUST FOLKS
"That must be the woman it tells about here."
He pointed to a paragraph headed : —
WIFE APPEALS TO SHEA
Wife and Starving Children of Striking
Teamster Gooch Sit for Hours in
Briggs House Waiting to see Shea
Then followed a "stickful" of copy written by a
reporter doing strike duty at the Briggs House;
he had been one of the "fellers" to contribute
to the midnight supper of Mamie and the
children, and in the absence of more important
news his little "Side-light on the Strike" found
place in the morning paper.
Gooch read the paragraph with more distress,
seemingly, than he had evinced over the murder.
"She oughtn't never to've done it," he said
with spirit. "People'll think I set her up to it,
that I ain't got spunk to stand up an' take
what's comin' to me in a fight. But," humbly,
"I hadn't oughter done what I done, neither.
Every union man that hits a blow except in
self-defence is hurtin' all the others, bringin'
'em a bad name. I oughtn't to ha' done it, no
matter what Slosson done. The way I feel
about the union is, my life'd be only too little
to give if it'd help the cause any. Why couldn't
I 'a' had patience, jes' patience to wait ? But
God A'mighty, it's hard to hear Mamie an' the
JUST FOLKS 309
kids cry for hunger ! An' now my life's as good
as gone, an' the shame of it, an' no good done
Gooch was booked by sympathetic jailers,
and when he had been locked up, an officer
went over to find Mamie and do what he could
to reassure her.
By ten o'clock Mamie was overrun with re-
porters, men and women. The floor above
Monahan's became, momentarily, the centre-
front of the stage whereon the great strike was
enacting its drama, and the spot light of the daily
presswas toplayfor a brief while between Gooch's
cell at Maxwell Street Station, Slosson's cot at
the "County," and the rooms where Mamie
and Hannah sat and waited they knew not
The first reporter brought good news. Slosson
was not dead. Nobody cared much on Slos-
son's account, but everybody cared on Gooch's.
Toward noon a telegram came from Three Oaks,
Michigan, whither word had been wired that
Slosson was probably fatally hurt. "Just bury
him in Chicago," was the grief-stricken response.
But Slosson declined to be buried yet. The
fall that would have killed any other man had
only inconvenienced him; his arm was broken,
but the succession of bumps had not materially
damaged his head. "Drunken men's luck,"
the surgeon muttered. Slosson was so far out of
310 JUST FOLKS
danger before night that Gooch was let out on
bail, which was easily forthcoming after the
evening papers had been read.
He and Mamie and the kids had Hannah as
their guest for supper in the kitchen which only
last night had been so dark. None of them
could eat much, except the children, who were
not moved by the excitement of the evening
papers. Gooch was very anxious and read
every line of every account.
"I asked them young men to be sure an' put
in about how I stand about the union," he said.
"I was afraid they wouldn't. I don't want any
one to think we're not true till death, Mamie
"They won't," comforted Hannah, wishing she
could feel as sure no one would think ill of her
for having gone to confession with her hair in
curling pins; "an' what d'ye think? One o'
them ladies that writes pieces fer the paper
said she could get me a new dresser, an' forty
dollars besides, for my old kitchen one that
belonged to his ma. So poor Slosson needn't
worry 'bout his rent."
Beth came back a week after the episode of
Gooch and Slosson and found, after a month's
absence, so much history to hear that it seemed
as if she would never be able to catch up with it.
Adam Spear's observations on the strike were
particularly voluble. It seemed a thousand pities
that such astute knowledge of the entire situa-
tion should blush unseen beside Liza's fireless
stove — Adam had the stove habit so fixedly
that he could never get far away from it even in
summer when the stove stood cold for months
and a gasoline substitute did its work. Hart
Ferris gave Adam's vast knowledge what public-
ity he could, thanking his stars that the paper
he worked for was not The News which Adam
read religiously ; but though it seemed to enter-
tain some persons, it did nothing discoverable
to settle the strike.
Meanwhile, Beth was busy about many things,
but trying all the while to get Mikey a job. She
was very much incensed to find that such jobs
as she could get did not appeal to Mikey !
"I believe," she told Ferris one evening,
"that Mikey's going to be just like his pa. He
doesn't seem to want to work."
312 JUST FOLKS
"Then why bother with him ?" said Ferris,
feeling very philosophical.
Beth didn't deign any reply. The next time
she was at Mary's and found Mikey home, she
asked him to walk back with her toward Maxwell
Street. Under the safe cover of the swarming
streets, she talked to him ; tried to arouse his
sense of manhood, of responsibility.
"It isn't a question of what you like to do,
Mikey," she told him. "It's a question of
what you must do. You're the man of that
family now, and you must try to help your
mother all you can. Think of all she has
suffered ! You don't want Johnny and Dewey
to have things as hard as you had them, do
you ? You don't want Midget and Mollie and
little Annie to — to go the way poor Angela
Ann did, do you ? Isn't any work that'll
keep them fed and clothed and give them a fair
chance for happiness worth working at, even if
you don't happen to like it ?"
Mikey hung his head and made no answer.
"You know," Beth went on, "how bitter it
used to make you and Angela, because your pa
wouldn't work at what he could get to do. If
he had done right, you wouldn't have suffered all
you've had to suffer. If he had done right,
Angela Ann wouldn't have been where she is
Again no answer.
JUST FOLKS 313
" Is it because you don't feel well, Mikey ?
Does it hurt you when you work ?"
"Weren't you happy when you were working
— before the strike ?"
By the light of the street lamp they were pass-
ing, Beth could see the red spots burning on
Mikey's high cheek-bones.
Weren't you ?" she persisted.
:c Well, then — " Beth thought she heard some-
thing like a stifled sob. "Mikey!" she cried
softly, but with unmistakable eagerness, as
the light of a great illumination broke in upon
her. "Is it — is it Ginger?"
Mikey nodded. ,
"That was it," Beth told Mary, next day.
"He can't forget Ginger. That's awfully pitiful,
Mary. I'm going to see the man who hired
Mikey before, and tell him a few things, and see
if he won't take Mikey back."
But the man wouldn't. The strike had been
peculiarly uncalled for and unjust. Their firm
had always treated their drivers with the ut-
most fairness and generosity. Yet the drivers,
for no grievance of their own, had struck and
made the firm a great deal of trouble, cost it a
great deal of money. Not one of these ingrates
should come back if, to keep their places filled, the
3H JUST FOLKS
firm had to send an arsenal along with every
Beth couldn't blame him, and she said so.
"But the pity of Mikey's case remains," she said.
The man admitted this, and gave her five
dollars for Mary Casey.
"I guess," said Beth, when she had thanked
him, "what I'll have to do is to see your barn
boss about buying Ginger, so I can present
him to some other firm that'll let Mikey drive."
The man on whom she was calling, laughed.
"You're a friend that stops at nothing, aren't
you ?" he said. "But I'd let that boy get over
his notion — that's the easiest way of all."
"I don't know about that," little Beth re-
plied. "He's had so much to 'get over' in his
life, poor Mikey!"
She hadn't intended this for a fine parting
shot, but it stuck in that man's consciousness
all day and for many a day. He didn't relent
about Mikey, but he sent word to the barn boss :
"If anybody offers to buy a horse named
Ginger, let him go cheap."
It was a question in Beth's mind whether
Mikey would be made the happier by knowing
she had tried, and failed, or whether she would
better keep the knowledge of her undertaking
from him. Thinking she would talk it over with
Mary, she went over to Henry Street about that
JUST FOLKS 315
time on Sunday afternoon when, experience
had taught her, Mary was most likely to be
Mary, meantime, had had an eventful day.
That morning she was up betimes, meaning
to go to early mass in the basement of the
church before "drissy folks" were abroad in
their Sunday finery. For more than one reason
Mary avoided the later masses ; her rags were
small shame to her compared with the more
than half-suspicious inquiries of acquaintances
as to the whereabouts of Angela Ann.
"'Tis more lies I'm after tellin'," said poor
Mary, "than th' praste kin iver take aff o' me.
'N' ag'in I do pinance enough t' kape me busy
half me time, an' go t' git me. holy c'munion,
I'm not out o' the prisence o 'th' blissed Sacra-
ment before I'm havin' t' lie ag'in t' save that
poor, silly girl's name !"
This morning, however, in spite of her early
rising and her efforts to get to seven o'clock
mass, events conspired to thwart her intentions.
Mollie woke up with a headache, and Johnny
had to be despatched on a vinegar-borrowing
expedition, so that the time-honored application
of brown paper soaked in vinegar might be
made to the poor little head. Annie cried lustily
with a colicky cry, and Mary had to hasten the
boiling of tea, that she might have a good, hot
cup to soothe her.
316 JUST FOLKS
It was nine o'clock before Mary could get away ;
the last mass in the basement was at nine o'clock.
But the Elevation of the Host had been cele-
brated before she got there, and she turned
disappointedly to the stairs ; she would have to
wait for half-past nine mass in the main church.
It seemed as if Providence were balking her,
but on the stairway she learned the reason why.
"Ye mus' be sure t' say a spicial prayer on
this mass," said one woman who passed her to
another, "'tis the first mass this young praste
have iver said, an' a blissin' go wid it t' thim that
prays wid him."
Saul on the Damascus road had no more over-
whelming sense of arrest and redirection than
Mary Casey had, as, trembling with excitement,
she reached the top of the stairway.
"Think o' that now," she told herself, "an'
if I had come t' th' airly mass I'd niver 'a' known
Hardly would her knees uphold her until she
could sink into an obscure pew, far back under
the gallery. And there, at the tense moment
when the silver-toned bell proclaimed commemo-
ration of the great lifting-up in suffering, Mary
raised her faith-full prayer: "A'mighty God,
sind me girl back t' me ! But if it don' be in yer
heart t' do that much, make her a good girl
wheeriver she be. Fer th' love av Christ, Amin."
Not often in any lifetime, perhaps, does it
JUST* FOLKS 317
come to pass that one prays with such sublime
assurance of crying straight into the listening ear
of Omnipotence that will inevitably keep faith
with poor flesh. For nigh on to forty years Mary
Casey had listened to reiterations of the old and
new Covenants, but they had fallen on sterile
ground in her soul. It was the little chance
remark about the new priest's first mass, dropping
into harrowed and watered soil, that flowered in
The mass ended and the throngs of worshippers
passed out, but Mary sat unheeded and un-
heeding in her dim corner, her simple mind grap-
pling with the stupendous idea of its Covenant
with Heaven. >
Before she had any realizing sense of time,
the church had filled again for high mass.
Then the lighting of the great white altar fas-
cinated her, and she felt an intense desire to live
again through such a moment of assurance as
she had lately experienced — to hear that bell
ring again, to smell the incense, and to believe
that in some wonderful, wonderful way it was all
a part of that prayer of hers that Heaven was
bound to answer.
So she stayed on, in her far-away pew, to the
remotest corner of which she was crowded as the
enormous church filled to its capacity. With the
entrance of the preacher into the pulpit, though,
318 JUST FOLKS
she was conscious of a distinct "let-down."
She had never liked sermons ; they dealt with
things so formally. Even when the priests made
their greatest efforts to be plain-spoken and
understandable, she seldom got any personal help
from their discourse. They were prone to
denunciations of adultery and drunkenness and
other sins of which she was innocent, and to
vague exhortations looking toward a hereafter on
which her imagination had never taken any
but the feeblest hold. But what was the priest
saying ? Something about a little household
that the Lord had loved, and one of its two sisters
had gone astray !
The woman sitting next to Mary nudged her
other neighbor and glanced in the direction of
Mary's face, thrust forward so as not to lose a
syllable, the tears chasing each other unheeded
down its furrows. In her lap Mary's gnarled
hands were clasped in painful intensity.
Over and over, since she was a tiny child in
Ireland, she had heard this Catholic rendering
of Mary of Bethany's story, but it had never
meant anything to her. To-day it meant every-
She was full of the wonder of it when Beth
came, and together the two sat in the "parlie"
that was waiting for Angela, and talked of her
The shadows grew deeper and deeper as they
JUST FOLKS 319
talked. The fervor of Mary's faith communi-
cated itself to the girl who had lived so much less
life than she, and Beth thought she had never
lived through such a vivid hour.
When she rose to go, Mary said, "Wait till
I git a light," and went into the kitchen to get
the lamp. (She never had oil to spare for the
one in the "parlie.") As she lighted the lamp,
a sound at the door caused her nearly to drop
the light. Hurrying to the back door, she threw
it open, and with the lamp in one hand, stood
peering out into the black yard.
"Here, pussy, pussy!" she called. Then, as
her call was answered, "My God ! what did I tell
ye ? 'Tis the wan-eyed cat !"
The next morning the postman brought a letter.
Mary was not surprised to get it. She could
not read it, but she could make out the signature,
written in the large, unformed hand wherewith
Angela had covered every available space in the
days of her brief but laborious apprenticeship
to the art of writing.
With trembling hand Mary tucked the letter
in her bosom, hastily got ready herself and
Annie, and went over to Beth's. But Beth was
gone on her day's rounds, and Mary had to take
the letter to her sister Maggie's. Maggie was
younger and had enjoyed more educational
advantages. She could "r'ade printin'" easily,
320 JUST FOLKS
and "writin"' fairly well if it hadn't too many
"She says," spelled out Mrs. Kavanagh,
"'Dear Ma, I'm at — West Randolph Street
I'm sick I'm afraid to go home count of Pa Your
Loving daughter Angela Ann Casey.' I'll go
wid ye," finished Maggie in the same breath.
" She haven't heard about her pa !" cried Mary.
Out of her small store of tawdry finery Maggie
lent several articles to make Mary " look more
drissy," and while they got ready for their
momentous journey, Mary related the events
of the day before.
"I knew," said Maggie, "theer was more in
that wan-eyed cat ner what annywan but me an'
the fortune-teller belaved."
The number they sought on West Randolph
Street was not far from the fateful Haymarket
Square. There was a store on the ground
floor, with living-rooms behind. And above,
a long flight of oil-cloth-covered stairs led to a
They inquired first in the store, but no one
there had ever heard of Angela Ann. Then,
with fast-beating hearts, the women mounted to
the office of the hotel, an inside room facing the
head of the first flight of stairs. The door stood
open, and they looked, before entering, into a
gas-lighted room furnished with yellow-painted
wooden arm-chairs ranged along the walls and
JUST FOLKS 321
flanked by a sparser row of cuspidors ; and near
the door, behind a small desk like a butcher-
store cashier's sat the "clerk," chewing vigor-
ously and expectorating without accuracy.
"Yes, she has a room here," he answered to
Mary's question, "hall room, rear, third floor."
"In a minute!" called Angela Ann's voice
when Mary had knocked.
"My God, 'tis hersilf," sobbed Mary, and
fell a-weeping violently.
"Ma !" cried Angela Ann, and threw open the
door. She had been in bed when they knocked,
and had not waited to put on her clothes when
she heard her mother's voice. At the touch
of her, the clinging -clasp of her poor, thin,
cold little arms, Mary grew hysterical.
"Don't, Ma, don't," begged Angela.
"She've grieved hersilf sick over ye," said
Maggie, unable to forbear this much of a repri-
mand now that the sinner was found. "Iver
since ye wint she've been like wan crazy. Come,
Mary, now ye've got her, brace up !"
"Sure, Ma," echoed the girl, "now ye've got
me, brace up. I ain't never goin' t' lave ye no
more, Ma — honest t' God, I ain't."
"Wheer ye been?" Mary raised her head
and, drawing back from the girl, peered anxiously
into her face. "In God's name, Ang'la Ann,
wheer you been ? Tell me ye've kep' dacint,
girl ; tell me ye've kep' dacint !"
322 JUST FOLKS
Angela sat down on the dingy, disordered
bed and began to cry, hiding her face in her
hands. For a long moment the silence, save for
her soft sobbing, was profound. Then a low
moan escaped Mary, a moan of anguish inexpress-
ible, showing how deeply, notwithstanding her
resolution of yesterday, she had cherished the
hope of her daughter's safety.
Angela raised her head. The pain in her
mother's moan was beyond her comprehension,
and she could understand it only as horror
"Are ye — are ye goin' t' t'row me off?"
Mary looked at her in pity that she could ask
such a thing. "T'row ye off ? Ah, me girl !
If ye'll on'y stick t' me as long as I'll stick t' you,
'tis all I'll ask o' Hivin. 'Tis fer yer sake I was
prayin' no harm had come t' ye — not fer mine.
Whativer happen t' ye, ye're me Ang'la Ann
that I nursed from yer first brith."
"An' — an' Pa ?" said Angela.
For a moment, in the joy of seeing her girl
and the pain of knowing the girl's innocence
was gone, Mary had forgotten Pa. Now, it all
came flooding back to her — that culmination
in the drama of her life — and the pride of Pa's
splendid death suddenly transformed her.
"Have ye heerd nothin' 'bout yer pa ?"
she asked Angela. It did not seem possible
JUST FOLKS 323
to Mary there was any one who had not heard
Angela's bitterness against her pa did not
melt at news of his death; it was only when
Mary's further descriptions suggested the horror
of his sufferings, that Angela's tears began to
"If yer pa was here," Mary went on, "he'd
be fer havin' a tur'ble wingince on the felly that
lid ye away."
Angela Ann smiled grimly, through her tears.
"I guess theer's quite a few pas lookin' fer
'im," she said, "but they don' never seem t' fin'
"Did he promise t' marry ye ?" asked Mary,
"He did not! He promised t' make me a
primmy donny !"
"'Tis a kin' of actress that wear tights an'
sing. I'm after r'adin' in books how gran' they
be, an' in the papers it tell how all the swell
fellies do be runnin' after 'em with diming neck-
lusses an' marryin' of 'em. An' 'tis all a lie!"
she finished, shrilly.
"Ye see!" Mary could not refrain from re-
minding her. "I tol' ye thim theayters was all
wrong. We kind o' t'ought it might be thim
that got ye, an' yer pa wint t' see this here
Halberg, whin we foun' the card out o' yer
324 JUST FOLKS
pocke' book. But he said he niver hear tell
"Did Pa go theer ?" questioned Angela Ann,
eagerly. She was all interest to know how the
search for her had been carried on. "An' was
my pitcher in the papers ?"
"Yer pitcher was not in the papers," her
mother answered, "an' not wan but yer own
kin know yeVe been missin' ; so ye kin hoi' up
yer hid an' look th' world in the face. An'
may God fergive yer mother th' lies she've toP
t' save yer name !"
Thus encouraged about the future, Angela
seemed inclined to tell about the past.
Yes, it had been Halberg, she admitted. A
young fellow she used to meet up at Peter the
Greek's had taken her to a couple o' shows and
asked her how she'd like to be a "primmy
donny." And when she said she would, he had
taken her to see Halberg. Halberg "engaged"
her. He told her not to say anything to her
folks about her new job until she could send
home her first week's pay and surprise them.
And she "needn't bring no clothes along," be-
cause the "company" would furnish her with
what she needed.
"Did they?" interrupted Maggie, breath-
"They did!" said Angela, her pallid cheeks
flushing at the recollection. She had a strange
JUST FOLKS 325
feeling toward her mother and aunt ; partly she
felt scorn of their uncomprehendingness, and
partly she felt shame and could not think how
to tell them what things had befallen her.
She had been sent out of town, down to those
same soft-coal regions of Illinois where her pa
had met his death. And the "director" of the
"company" had tried to teach her a few tricks
of dancing and singing. They went from town
to town and "performed" in the saloons. And
after a while, Angela fell sick and was abandoned
by the rest. Then a foul-tongued, soft-hearted
woman whose husband kept the saloon where
Angela lay ill, was touched by the girl's exceed-
ing distress and let her stay there until she re-
covered and earned enough money, by lamp-
filling and dishwashing and like chores, to pay
her way home.
"'You better go back t' yer ma — that's
wheer you better go,' that woman says to me;
an' Sata'd'y mornin' she bundled me off. But
I was scared to go home right t' wanst, till I
seen how it was goin' t' be — so I come here.
An' I have been awful sick-like iver since I come."
"Why, in Hivin's name!" Maggie broke in,
"did ye niver sind yer ma a line before, t' say
ye were alive ? Ye needn' 'a' tol wheer ye was,
but ye could 'a' said ye were in th' land o' th'
livin', surely ?"
"I was 'shamed," whimpered Angela. "I
326 JUST FOLKS
t'ought ye wouldn' keer wheer I was, whin I
wasn' doin' daycint.""
"T'ink o' that, now !" cried Mary. "That's
all a girl do know about her ma ! Whin yer a
mother yersilf ye'll know better, an' not till
thin, I suppose."
There was a great deal about Angela's story
that her mother could not understand, and
there were some things about it that Angela
herself did not understand. But little Beth,
"putting two and two together," saw some things
"Mary," she said, sitting in the parlie and
hearing the story of Angela Ann, "that proves
to me what I've suspected for a long time. I
didn't know about O. Halberg and his end of it,
but I've been pretty sure that Peter the Greek
was a bad man, and that he was using his store
as a place to lure young girls. That fellow that
was so 'nice' to poor little Angela, was what is
called a cadet. He makes it his business to fill
girls' heads with flighty notions and to lead
them away from home. This is a pretty foxy
game — this particular one — but don't you
see ? Peter draws the girls there with his candy,
and soda, and fruit, and nuts, his electric piano,
and all that. He has one or two of these cadets
who treat the girls to ice-cream and flatter them
and take them to cheap shows. Then, when
they get the girl's confidence, they take her to
JUST FOLKS 327
Halberg, and he sells her or rents her to some
wretch who takes her out of town and into a
life of the — the vilest shame. Do you see,
"Now," Beth went on, "I've thought for
some time that this Peter was doing something
of the sort. In my work, I trace a lot of trouble
to his store. But I've never* been able to get a
good case on him. This is a Greek ward, you
know — the Greeks are voters — they stand
together, solid. It's hard to prove anything
against one of them. They lie for one another
— like the Italians — and not against one an-
other like the Irish and the Jews. And the
police, controlled by politics, don't like to prose-
cute a solid mass of voters — see ? Now, I
didn't know what Peter was doing with girls he
lured away, but I have felt sure he was luring
them. If you would prosecute — "
"Sure I'll prosecute!" cried Mary, her eyes
"Wait!" said Beth. "To prosecute, you
must testify — you must tell about Angela —
she must tell about herself — and you can't
keep it secret — can't keep it out of the papers."
Mary's expression changed — protest was in
every line of her countenance. "I couldn' do
that!" she murmured. "I'd niver do that."
"Not to save some other mothers' girls ?"
328 JUST FOLKS
Mary shook her head. "I'd like to," she
said, "but I couldn' — fer Ang'la's sake."
"I don' keer, Ma !" cried Angela. "I'd just
as lieves tell !"
Her mother looked at her in astonishment,
"Ye don' know what yer sayin'," she declared.
"An' you don' know what they're doin' t'
girls !" was Angela's retort.
Beth, quivering with fury against the de-
stroyers of girlhood, pleaded with Mary — in
vain. Angela Ann, smarting under the sense of
her unspeakable wrongs, pleaded too.
"I can't," said Mary, weeping piteously. "I
So Beth went away. She usually went and
came between Maxwell and Henry Streets by
way of Waller Street, the eastern, as Blue Island
Avenue was the western, boundary of Henry
Street. But to-day as she reached the sidewalk
level, she turned toward Blue Island Avenue.
Interest in Angela's return was still so fresh
that none of the small Caseys offered, as was
their custom, to accompany Beth "a piece" of
her way home.
Peter the Greek knew her enmity — knew she
had warned girls against going to his store and
parents against letting their girls go. He would
not receive her call affably, she was well aware.
But the resolution of her short, quick steps never
JUST FOLKS 329
Peter's store was not splendid, except by-
comparison with other shops "on Blue Islan'."
Halsted Street had a dozen Greek stores, be-
tween Twelfth Street and Madison, that made
Peter Demapopulos's look very small and dingy
indeed. But Peter was doing very well, finan-
cially, and had not — for a Greek so recently
advanced from basket-peddling to shop-keeping
— a weary while to wait between his present
and the dreamed-of day when he should own a
gaudy store on Halsted Street. Even now, his
stock showed that genius for display where-
with the Greek seems always able to invest his
colorful commodities. And there were the soda-
fountain, the electric piano, the ice-cream tables,
the candies — more than enough to lure Angela
from that back kitchen !
In the front of the store, as Beth entered, a
boy was buying cocoanut taffy. Peter was not
visible. The Greek who was in charge, called
himself Peter's brother; Peter said he was no
relation. Beth was familiar with this disputed
relationship, and indifferent to the truth about
"Where's Peter?" she asked, when the cus-
tomer was gone.
"Down town !" said "brother" so promptly
that Beth was sure he lied.
But there was nothing to do, then, but go
In the Nineteenth Ward were one or two
Settlements so much smaller than Hull House
as seldom to be heard of beyond the immediate
neighborhood. In one of them, Beth Tully re-
ceived, once a week, the obligatory visits of her
Her visits to their homes were seldom wholly
satisfactory, for the boys themselves were not
often to be found. Either they were "workin',"
or they were "to school," or they were "out
playin'," far be it from the mothers to know
where. But Monday nights when Beth brought
them together at the Settlement, she was able
to gather — not in confession so much as in
gossip — a good deal of information about her
On the night of that eventful Monday when
Angela Ann returned, Beth was at her post by
the big table in the main hall. She always made
the occasion as social as possible, so the boys
would like to come. And they came here more
readily than to any other place.
To-night, the usual activities of the smaller
Settlements — which are the same as those of
the larger, only they don't go so far and are
JUST FOLKS 331
not so numerous — were in fairly full blast.
There was bowling below-stairs, a choral society
in the Guild Hall, dancing in the big room where
babies were " kindergartened " by day; type-
writers were clicking in the commercial school-
room, sewing-machines whirring in the dress-
making class, and awful, groaning noises proceed-
ing from a distant, third-story room where a
brass band was in process of trying to be a band,
although at present every bit of brass seemed
Beth's manner with her probation boys was a
delightful study. They felt her youth, her sym-
pathy, and they lost when with her as much of
their self-consciousness as boys ever lose in the
presence of any one. But they never got fa-
miliar, never lost a certain awe of her not as
she was but as she could so easily become if a
fellow overestimated her sentiment and under-
estimated her lightning-quick intelligence.
For instance, there was Angelo Vacca who
was struggling — not too hard — with a gypsy
spirit which loved any chance shelter better
than a home and any game of chance better
than the best steady income that ever drove a
body mad with its dead certainty. Angelo sold
papers, nominally, and kept two very bright
black eyes wide open for "better" business. In
order to insure his return home nights and his
fair division of spoils with his widowed "mud-
332 JUST FOLKS
der," Beth had devised a scheme whereby Mrs.
Vacca was to put down on a paper each night
the sum Angelo took to her, and to make oppo-
site to it a mark X, to signify that Angelo had
slept at home. Once a week this paper was pre-
sented to Beth's scrutiny.
"Forty-seven cents," she would read aloud
from the paper bearing what Angelo called "me
mudder's slignature," "fifty-three cents, nineteen
cents — how's that, Angelo ?"
"Bad day!" Angelo would say promptly,
Beth knew that if Angelo ever "got stuck"
with papers it was because he was trying an-
other "line" unsuccessfully. Evidently his
"mudder" had protested, too, because next day
the record was sixty-one cents.
Then, "Dollar-nineteen ! How's that, An-
"Fine day!" answered Angelo, smiling en-
gagingly and showing all his white teeth. "Work
Beth knew he had never earned a dollar-
nineteen selling papers ; and that if he had
given his "mudder" so much, it was gambler
generosity, arguing a much larger sum retained.
But she kept her own counsel, feeling sure that
some of the other boys would throw light on
the dark places of Angelo's history. Sure
enough ! Herman Rubovitz had failed to take
JUST FOLKS 333
home any wages on a certain pay day. His pa
had beat him and his ma had sent word "by de
p'leece lady." Herman tried to exonerate him-
self by pleading the temptation, nay, the forcible
insistence of certain bad boys that he "shoot
craps." What boys ? Well, August Ankowitzer,
and Tony Kapusta, and Johnny Mishtawa, and
Next time a suspiciously large amount ap-
peared above Mrs. Vacca's "slignature," Beth's
blue eyes lifted from the paper and fastened
themselves with terrible searchingness on Angelo's
"Hand 'em over !" she commanded briefly.
"What'm?" asked Angelo, wide-eyed with
"The dice — the bones!" was her laconic
Angelo "dug down" with a grimy hand and
"Now the loaded ones !" said Beth, matter-
"The loaded ones ! You don't win money like
that playin' on the level."
Angelo looked a minute at the stern face of
the little "p'leece lady," then dug into another
pocket and handed over the loaded dice.
"Gee !" he remarked admiringly, as he threw
them down, "but yer a wise guy !"
334 JUST FOLKS
"Humph!" said Beth, loftily, as if that
were a very trifling exhibition of her occult
This Monday evening, Hart Ferris was there
— as he often was — to wait for her and go,
perhaps, for a little car ride after hep work was
done. She had tried to get him at the office,
during the afternoon, to tell him that Angela
Ann was found, but had not succeeded in find-
Ferris came into the hall of the Settlement
while some of the last of the boys were report-
ing to Beth. He thought he could tell, as he
sat watching her, that something out of the
ordinary had happened ; but maybe it was only
after he heard that he remembered having felt
When the last boy was gone, Beth drew a
sigh of mingled weariness and relief. Then she
looked up at Ferris, standing over her.
Beth was not one of those who waste time,
when about to disclose news, with asking:
"What do you suppose?" and waiting for a
needless assurance : "I can't guess." Her direct
ways had nothing to do with such dillydallying
— unless she was obviously mischievous and
"Angela Ann has come home !" she said.
"She has ? Where was she ?"
Beth told him ; told him, too, how Angela
JUST FOLKS 33S
had got there. She was in the midst of telling
him about it when Mary Casey came in.
"Why, Mary!" said Beth. She read in
Mary's face that this was no casual call, and if
she had not so read, first thought would have
reminded her that on no ordinary errand would
Mary have left home this evening of Angela
Ann's return — not even to go down town to her
Mary misinterpreted Beth's surprise. "I ain'
workin' this avenin'," she explained ; "I couldn'."
"Of course you couldn't," Beth agreed.
"I — I don' t'ink you understan'," Mary
went on, falteringly. "It isn' 'count o' Ang'la
comin' home — not jest. I couldn' afford t'
stay home jest fer that — me bein' the on'y wan
of us wid an income, these days. It's — it's — "
She looked at Ferris, and then appealingly at
"He knows, Mary," said Beth, gently, "but
if you'd rather he would go away — "
Mary seemed to hesitate for a moment, as if
trying to decide. Then, "No, he better stay,"
she said, "he'll understan'." She glanced about
the Settlement hall, to see if there were any one
else in sight, and having satisfied herself that
there was no danger of being overheard, she drew
closer to Beth and Ferris, and began : —
"After you wint away to-day, Miss Beth, an' the
childern got t'rough rubberin' at Ang'la Ann an'
336 JUST FOLKS
wint back t 9 theer play, Ang'la got talkin'
more free-like — 'bout what she'd been t'rough,
I mane." Here Mary's face began to burn with
crimson shame. "Theer was a lot she tried
t' till me that I couldn't understan' — seem like
it was clear beyon' my way o' t'inkin'. But
Mikey — he was theer an' heerd 'er — he — must
'a' understood, fer I niver see anny wan look the
way he looked. He didn' let hem ner haw out o'
him — you know his way ! But thim rid spots on
his cheeks burned like two flames that's fanned ;
an' theer was a look in the eyes of him that froze
me more'n all Ang'la said. Pritty soon he put on
his hat an' wint away — widout a word ; an'
I ain' seen him since. Whin he was gon', Ang'la
an' me talked more 'bout what you said — me
feelin' I couldn' stan' t' do it an' all the while
somethin' in me tellin' me I couldn' stan' not t 9
do it. 'Jest l'ave me t' t'ink till avenin',' I says —
knowin' I had t' decide whither we was t' till
lies t' ivrywan about wheer Ang'la was, or t'
till the trut' an' help save other girls. An'
come avenin', I wint over t' the church t' set a
while in the quiet an' say me prayers an' ask
A'mighty God t' sind me some sign. I flit like
that man in the Bible I'm after hearin' preached
about, wan time — I t'ink 'twas Abraham. He
was goin' t' kill his bye, t' show his fait* in the
Lord — an' whin he wasn' wan minute from
havin' it done, the Lord told him niver t' min' —
JUST FOLKS 337
sure he could see he mint t' do it, an' that was
enough — a sheep'd do instid. I — I dunno
what made that come into me min', but I t'ought
mebbe if I could be willin' t' sacrifice Ang'la,
if I could mane that well, I'd git a sign from
God A'mighty that he'd save thim other girls wid-
out makin' me put the black mark o' shame
on mine. Was that wrong ? I prayed an' I
prayed, but I couldn' git no feelin' that it'd
be all right agin I didn' do it. So thin I done
the stations o' the Cross, an' I raymimbered
how the blissed Saviour prayed that same way,
too ; but it couldn' be, an' he wint on t' death
t' save the world. It's bitterer'n death t' me —
but I got t' do it!"
Ferris had turned away to hide the emotion
he could not control. Beth's tears were falling
furiously. But Mary Casey, past the point of
tears, was dry-eyed. Dull red burned on the
high cheek-bones of her thin face; and the
majesty that sublime acquiescence gives was in
the poise of her toil-bent figure.
The crashing thud of balls in the bowling alley
continued without ceasing; the shuffling of
dancing feet, the pounding out of ragtime
from the gymnasium piano, the repeated false
starts of the Caruso (formerly De Reszke)
Society, the- whirring and clicking and tooting,
were in full activity; "the reclamation of the
masses" was going forward vociferously. But
338 JUST FOLKS
only Beth and Ferris knew that in the Settle-
ment's well-nigh deserted entrance hall, a poverty-
ridden woman who could not read her name/was
making for humanity a bigger sacrifice than
humanity would ever comprehend.
"Mary," said Beth when she could command
herself to speak, "you — you are a great woman !
I — when I think of you, Mary, dear, I can
only think how God must love you — how —
how proud of you He must be !"
But such was the greatness of Mary that she
could not understand. "D'ye t'ink He knows
I've tried?" she begged wistfully. And then
her tears came.
There was time, then, for only a brief conference
about what should be done to-morrow to begin
the prosecution of those who had entrapped
Angela. Then Mary, unwilling to stay too long
away from home, said she must go. But before
she went, she wanted to see the Head Resident
for a minute, about some work she was to do at
the Settlement that week.
While Mary was gone, Beth and Ferris talked
rapidly, planning a campaign of action. They
were in the midst of it when the street-door was
rather violently flung open, and a gaunt youth,
breathing hard as if pressed in pursuit, came
into the hall. It was Mikey !
Beth had tried to interest Mikey in some of the
JUST FOLKS 339
Settlement activities. It was not an easy under-
taking, but Mikey had consented to come a few
times, especially on Monday nights, when he
knew Beth was there. It was late, to-night,
though, for any of the things Mikey ever cared
to do at the Settlement ; and he had about him an
air so different from his usual doggedness as to
be quite startling.
"Mikey !" cried little Beth, jumping to her feet.
The sound of her voice seemed to rouse Mikey ;
he was like one who had fled thither in a night-
mare and now, waking slowly, could not remem-
ber why he had come.
M I — I — is it too late ? " he began to stammer,
backing toward the door.
There was a wild light in his eyes, such as
Beth had never seen there before. Inwardly,
she quailed before it ; but there was no irresolution
in her manner as she stepped quickly up to him
and said : —
"Have you been drinking, Mikey ?" It was
her fear and Mary's that in the idleness of the
strike Mikey would "take to drink."
"No'm." Mikey's sullen manner was return-
"Fighting?" As often as they had discussed
the strike — she and Mikey — they had agreed
that the one thing a man that loved his union
must not do was to bring discredit on it by any
deed of violence.
34° JUST FOLKS
" Then what — ? Mikey ! What's the matter
with your coat — your hands ?"
"Aw, nothin' !" cried Mikey, impatiently.
And, jerking open the door, he was gone.
"Wasn' that my Mikey?" Mary Casey
had returned just in time to see the boy lurch
"Yes. Before I had a chance to tell him you
were here, he went away again."
"What'd he want ? Was he huntin' me?"
" I don't know — I started to ask him, and
he went without answering. He seemed ex-
Mary looked anxious. "I'll hurry an' come
up wid him," she said, starting for the door.
As she reached out to open it, it was opened
from without, and a small boy of the neigh-
borhood rushed past her, wide-eyed with ex-
"Peter de Greek is murdered in his store!"
he cried, as he sped through the hall, intent on
creating sensations in each separate assembly at
Mary's knees trembled — she swayed — and
Ferris caught her. Beth dropped back weakly
into her chair. For a moment, each one of the
three avoided the others' eyes. Then Mary
staggered to her feet.
JUST FOLKS 341
"What' re ye goin' t' do ?" she asked ; and her
tone was a challenge. Refusing Ferris's con-
tinued support, she stood across the doorway
as if to intercept pursuit of her boy.
"Do ?" Beth echoed. "Is there anything to
Mary seemed reassured by Beth's dazed answer.
"Sure there is not!" she declared. "We dunno
what happened, at all, an' 'tis no place av ours
t' say annythin'."
Then Beth began to comprehend. "You may
be sure I shan't say anything, until we know
more," she said.
"An' him ?" nodding toward Ferris. "Thim
that write fer papers is awful keen fer news o'
Beth looked appealingly at Ferris.
"I can't stop what comes to light," he said.
"I may be forced to — "
"What could force you — ?"
The sound of voices made Beth jump to her
feet. "The thing for all three of us to do,"
she said, " is to get out of here, quick, before people
come here discussing the murder and asking
Out in the street it seemed more possible to
"Mary," said Beth, "unless Mikey was seen,
there's nothing to bring suspicion on him as the
— the one who may have killed the Greek.
342 JUST FOLKS
It isn't as if it were tomorrow night, after we
had made the charge against the Greek. Now,
nobody knows but us ; and we — "
" Ain' goin' t' till," Mary broke in ; and there
was desperate defiance in the way she said it.
Beth and Ferris walked home with Mary,
partly because they hated to leave her alone
in her terrible anxiety, and partly because they
felt they must know if Mikey had gone home.
"Perhaps I just thought he seemed excited,"
Beth said; "perhaps it was what you had been
telling me, that made me think of it And I
suppose he left, that way, because I asked him
questions." She dared not tell Mary what she
had thought she saw on Mikey's hands and coat.
Mary made no reply; she dared not hope as
"If he's not here," she said, when they came
to the top of her flight of stairs, "I'll come
right back an' let ye know. If I don' come back
ye'll know 'tis all right."
When she had gone down the creaking steps
and disappeared in the blackness below, Beth
and Ferris had their first opportunity to speak
what was on their minds.
"I don't see," Beth began, quaking nervously,
"how I can stand it for Mary, for Mikey, for all
of us, if he has done this thing. Not that I
think it's any shame to rid the world of that
Greek! But the Law will hold it criminal —
344 JUST FOLKS
and what we'll have to go through, makes me
sick at heart to think about.
" I won't let you go through it ! There are
limits to what I'll see you stand. You'll just
have to — "
Beth sighed impatiently. "Don't be silly —
please ! " she entreated wearily. " If Mary and
Mikey have it to go through, what can keep
it from weighing like lead on me ?"
Mary was gone so long, they began to hope.
But presently her step was heard, heavy, on the
stairs ; she was dragging herself with difficulty
to the sidewalk level.
" He haven't come," she whispered, " an' I
dassent l'ave the childern know what fear is in
"If he doesn't come home to-night, will you
send one of the children over to tell me, first
thing in the morning?" Beth asked. "And
meanwhile, Mr. Ferris and I will go over to
Blue Island Avenue, and see if we can find
out there, or at Maxwell Street Station, if any
suspicion points to Mikey. If they're after him,
we'll hurry back and tell you. If we don't come
back, you may know that — so far, at least —
they haven't suspected him."
Over on the Avenue, a curious crowd was col-
lected as close to the store of Peter the Greek
as the police guard would permit. Backed up
to the curb was the patrol wagon, awaiting the
JUST FOLKS 34S
grewsome burden for the morgue. An officer
Beth knew was standing beside the wagon steps,
and of him she inquired, as casually as she could,
about the murder.
"Can't make out much about it, so far,"
he told her. "It was a knife affair — " Beth
shuddered when she thought of Mikey's hands.
"An' they're quiet, you know. There was people
in the store, gettin' soda and candy and ice-
cream — quite a few of them. That fella that
says he's Peter the Greek's brother was workin'
the fountain. He run out o' somethin', an' Peter
went back to that place behind the partition,
where they unpacked fruit an' kept supplies, t'
git it. He didn' come back, an' he didn' come
back ; so the brother — or whatever he is —
went to get the stuff himself. An' there this
Peter lay, with his heart stuck through. The
electric piano was goin' so loud they didn' even
hear 'im fall. An' the back door was standin'
"Does the brother — or whoever he is —
know anybody who — who might have done it ?"
"He ain' sayin' anythin'. Them Greeks is
terrible close-mouthed, an' they lie fer one an-
other like a pack o' thieves. He may have
stuck the knife in, hisself. That bunch o'
boys an' girls he called in when he foun' the body
— as he says — wouldn' have sense enough
among 'em t' know if he acted most surprised or
346 JUST FOLKS
guilty. Anyway we'll have to hold him till we
"You have no other clew ?"
"Not yet — that I've heard of. It on'y
happened a half an hour ago."
Still further to satisfy Beth, Ferris went into
Maxwell Street Station before they returned to
Liza's. His newspaper connection, and his fre-
quent presence in the vicinity where Miss Tully
lived — both well known to the Maxwell Street
force — gave him abundant excuse for an inter-
est in the murder. What Beth hoped they might,
at this propitious time, find out, was whether
the police had any definite ideas about Peter
as employed in the traffic in girls. They had !
"I guess he was a pretty tough citizen, all
right," the desk sergeant opined to Ferris,
"and got only part of what was comin' to
"Oh, he was mixed up in a dirty trade, without
doubt. We ain't never had no specific charge
against him — them charges is hard to get —
but I s'pose some poor devil has tried to avenge
his girl and," confidentially, "I kind o' hope
he gets away with it."
"That settles our case," remarked Beth as
they went on their way. "We can't prosecute
Peter, now — he's gone where his case is known.
And any mention of him in connection with
JUST FOLKS 347
Angela Ann would bring suspicion at once on
"Don't you think Mikey did it ?"
"I'm afraid he did."
"Then — why, Beth! You're an officer of
Beth winced. "I know I am," she said, "but
I'm not going to say anything to put Mikey in
jeopardy. That Greek is well made way with —
the world is better without him. Mikey has
never had a chance in this world ; do you think
I'm going to put his neck in a noose and see
him sent out of the world, for driving a knife
into the black heart of that Greek ? Besides, I
don't know that he did it. Suppose he didn't !
Suppose I tell the police what I surmise, and
they get him — and don't get anybody else.
You're a newspaper man ; you know how such
things go ! And if he did do it, for Angela, I'll
have more hope of Mikey than I've ever had
before — poor, sluggish, unawakened Mikey. If
he cared that much, he has more in him than I
dared to hope."
Ferris listened to her without trying to in-
terrupt. When she had quite evidently come
to the end of her plea — pleading with herself,
he knew, as much as with him — he said : —
"Beth, you were hired to uphold the law,
not to interpret it. Judges decide what law
ought to be; you belong only to that arm of
348 JUST FOLKS
law and order which enforces statutes. You
have no right whatever to decide what you think
the law ought to be ; you are under oath to en-
force it as it is. This is the thing I've always
told you would prove to you, some day, that
women have no business fooling with the law.
You are all sentimentalists. It isn't in you to
have respect for the law as an abstract thing,
to care above everything to maintain it in its
integrity. Your pity is greater than your sense
of justice; you want to make an exception of
each individual case. There'd be no law, if you
had your way ! You'd make and unmake it for
each separate offender. Natural law ought to
teach you better. Nature makes no exceptions.
You have neither legal nor logical authority to
interpret the law for yourself ; you are sworn to
uphold it as it has made itself out of generations
of demonstrated expediency."
Beth's eyes flashed. "I'm tired of expedi-
ence!" she cried hotly. "I'm tired of stand-
ing by and seeing Mary, and others like her,
stagger under unbearable burdens of woe, and
hearing you, and others like you, talk about the
law and about the hand of God. I believe God
hates such hypocrisy ! I believe He is sick at
heart because we stand around and prate about
expediency, and don't rush in, mad with the
desire to ease suffering. I'd be ashamed to
think about God, if I turned against Mary now !"
JUST FOLKS 349
Ferris was very quiet — his tones were omi-
nously low and even, betokening the grip he
was exercising. "If you perjure yourself," he
replied, "you will only delay Mary's heartbreak.
For, if Mikey did what you fear he did, and you
shield him, and he goes free, will his respect for
the law be very great ? Will an experience like
this help him to be a good citizen, to be very
mindful not to break other laws ? You know it
won't ! Will it be good for Johnny — for
Dewey — ?"
"Talk !" interrupted Beth, sharply, "all talk !
If I tell on him, what kind of a citizen will he
be ? If he is hanged, or sent to prison for life,
will Johnny and Dewey be better for it ?"
They were at Beth's door, now, and she
seemed about to enter abruptly, without saying
"Wait a minute !" Ferris commanded. Beth
hesitated in the doorway. "You have decided
for yourself," he said, "but you cannot decide
"What do you mean ?"
"I mean that I know as much as you do —
saw and heard the same evidence. If the ques-
tion comes to you, you may lie — "
"But you won't !"
"No, I don't believe I shall. I'm as sorry
for Mary, for Mikey, as you are ; but I can't see
that it is right — "
3 so JUST FOLKS
Beth slammed the door.
Everything was still in Liza's rooms, and Beth
was intensely grateful that she could slip into
bed without being questioned.
Of course she could not sleep. Weariness
closed her heavy eyes, but no merciful uncon-
sciousness would come. Over and over and
over in her mind, she turned the possibilities.
Like Mary, she hoped for a sign. But none
As soon as she could get a cup of coffee, in
the morning, she was away to Henry Street,
without waiting for word from Mary.
Mikey was not there.
Crafty in the defence of her offspring was
Mary, like any other natural mother. In the
long watches of that dreadful night when she
and Angela Ann had sat in the kitchen — strain-
ing their ears to hear every footfall on the board
walk between the houses, hoping against hope
that Mikey would come — Mary had talked in
whispers to the girl of what they must do if
Mikey did not come.
"We can't till thim," the mother said nod-
ding toward the bedrooms where the children lay
asleep. "We wouldn' want t' till this why we
t'ink he done it; an' 'tis better annyway fer
thim t' know nothin'. Then, agin theer ast
quistions they'll nade t' till no lies — which
JUST FOLKS 351
same is partly fer the sake o' theer souls an'
partly because I misdoubt the kin' o' lies they
might be able t' till."
Mary spoke as if appealing to the girl's judg-
ment for confirmation ; but it was only the
craving of her mother heart for understanding
from her child, that made her speak so. For
her mind was inflexibly made up to defend
Mikey at any cost.
Angela Ann, however, easily agreed ; it was
the menace of her future that she agreed all too
easily, bent all too unresistingly to any will
stronger than her own — which it was hard for
any will not to be. A bit of thistle-drift was
Angela; and would have no life "but as the
wind listeth." Which made it the more im-
perative that she should be kept where only
gently favoring winds blow.
"I'd made up me min' t' till wheer ye'd been,
so we could git the hound o' hell that took
money fer yer poor little soul," Mary went on,
still whispering, "but yer brother have took
wingince into his own han's, I'm feared. 'Tis
our business, now, t' kape as still as death
'bout wheer you been — so's no wan nade sus-
pect our Mikey-bye o' doin' it."
To Beth, when she came to Henry Street
about six o'clock in the morning, Mary repeated
all this, behind a closed door.
"There's this about it, Mary," Beth reminded
352 JUST FOLKS
her, "if they don't suspect Mikey, and don't
prosecute any one else — who may be innocent !
— it'll all work out well for Angela's good name.
But if they get Mikey and try him, he'll have
a chance to get off if it's known what the mur-
der was committed for."
"What d'ye mane?"
"Th' unwritten law, d'ye call it ? I should
t'ink it'd be written big in ivry book that tills
the law; fer sure 'tis written in the heart of
ivry man — ivry rale man — that live."
Beth thought best not to tell Mary what
weight of sentiment there was opposed to the
"unwritten law." If she had that to learn in
bitter experience, it would not help her any to
know about it now; it was better for her to
hope that, even if Mikey were caught and tried,
he might be gently judged because of the motive
for his crime.
So they agreed that nothing should be said
about Angela's experience unless Mikey were
brought to trial for the death of the Greek.
"If they don' git him, will he dare t' come
back, by an' by, d'ye t'ink ?" With the weight
of worst apprehension lifted, Mary's heart was
wistful for her boy's return.
"That's what's bothering me, Mary dear,"
Beth answered. "I — I don't like the idea of
Mikey hiding from justice — I don't like to
JUST FOLKS 353
think where he may be or what he may be
doing to escape the police. It's an awful life —
that dodging. Even if Mikey went to the coun-
try — which he wouldn't be likely to do, because
he knows so little about country ways — he'd
never feel safe ; every time he saw any one look-
ing at him, he'd feel sure he was recognized —
found out. And a strong character couldn't
stand that ; and we know Mikey isn't strong.
If he has stayed in the city, or gone out on the
road with hoboes, he hasn't a chance for his
soul's life. He'd be better off in jail, Mary dear,
standing trial like a man for a man's deed, than
skulking in such company as he could get into
in his present plight."
"Sure, I niver t'ought o' that !" Mary cried,
dazed by the dreadfulness of this alternative.
"I dunno what I t'ought he'd be doin', but I
niver pictured t' mesilf thim t'ings ye till about.
'Tain't as if theer was annywan on top o' God's
earth a bye could go to — knockin' on theer door
in dead o' night an' sayin' 'L'ave me in an' try
t' pertect me, fer though I've done wrong, I
mane t' be good.' Theer's no wan that'd under-
stan' a bye like that — is theer ?"
Then it flashed on Beth why Mikey had fled
to her ! He believed — not reasoning, doubt-
less, but having some dim intuition — that she
would understand. And he had come to her in
his plight, and she had failed him. Tears
354 JUST FOLKS
blinded her, and she hid her face from Mary as
from one that she had betrayed.
"What is it, darlin' ?" the older woman en-
treated, kneeling beside the girl and soothing
her maternally. " YeVe stood too manny o' me
troubles ! 'Tain't in nature you should stan'
'em like I kin, not havin' had the practice.
Don' cry, Miss Beth dear — t'ings '11 come right,
somehow. God do be kapein' of us all, an'
He'll do right by thim that niver mint no harm.
An' sure, I'm glad 'tis Him that have it all t' do,
not me; fer wan minute I'm of wan min', an'
the nixt I'm of another. I hope it don' worry
God A'mighty — all the diffrunt t'ings I do be
prayin' Him t' do ! Sure, 'tis a good t'ing He
know His own min' all the while — fer I'm like
the mayor o' Lim'rick, I dunno mesilf. All
night I'm prayin', wild-like : ' Don't let thim
git me bye ! ' An' now me heart is burstin'
wid th' prayer that Mikey'll be foun' — to-
While Mary talked, Beth so far recovered her
self-control as to ponder whether she would add
to Mary's grief or lighten it, by telling Mary
why she wept. It was that sturdy honesty in
her which scorned to conceal her own fault,
that made her tell ; and it proved, as admissions
so made usually do prove, a bond of deeper
sympathy between herself and Mary. It is the
people who are never willing to be blamed or to
JUST FOLKS 355
be felt sorry for, who never accomplish real
service for others.
It seemed to Beth that if she, in Mary's place,
suddenly realized how terribly a girl, professing
the deepest concern for Mikey's welfare, had
failed him at the crucial moment of his life, she
would turn on that girl scathingly and denounce
her for the poor, weak thing she was. But Mary
had, apparently, no such impulse — did not even
have it to conquer.
"It would have been gran','' she admitted,
"if you could 'a' held 'im — " and there was a
wistfulness in her face, in her voice, that almost
broke Beth's heart — "but, Saints above! ye
couldn' know it then ! Ye didn' know what he
had done ; an' if ye had, yer first t'ought would
'a' been like mine, — t' lit 'im git away. Don'
blame yersilf, Miss Beth dear ! We can't be
born knowin' ivryt'ing; 'tis on'y whin we git
chance after chance t' l'arn, an' don' do it, that
we've anny call fer blame. I'll bet ye, now,
that whin the nixt bye come t' ye like Mikey
did, ye'll be ready fer 'im ! An' mebbe — God
knows — he'll be wan that'll nade ye aven
more'n what Mikey did."
So Beth, who had come hoping to comfort,
went away comforted. She had several cases in
court that day and she had a lot to do before
court time, getting together witnesses and other-
wise trying to serve the ends of justice — for the
356 JUST FOLKS
children. "And oh!" Beth reflected as she
went about her work, "it is so hard to know
what justice is, for anybody." But her long
night's vigil had brought her to this, in a world
where law must reign — as law reigns in all
the universe — there could be no justice in
trying to evade the law. "If we could only
know our laws are right!" she felt, "it would
be so much easier to insist that they must be
upheld at any cost — " nor dreamed, dear little
Beth ! that if there is promise of emended laws
evolved out of a better understanding of human
nature and its limitations and its needs, much of
the world's gratitude therefor must go to such as
Her mind was so crowded with things to
think about, that she forgot to buy a morning
paper. But Ferris 'phoned to her as soon as he
thought she had reached the court.
"They've got Mikey," he said.
" How do you know ? "
"Haven't you read the papers ?"
"Well, they picked him up, down town, within
a few minutes after he left the Settlement. He
had blood stains on his hands and clothes — you
know ! — and he was trying to keep out of sight.
And when taken, he could not, or would not,
give an account of himself. So they're holding
him. He gave a fictitious name — but he'll be
JUST FOLKS 357
identified, of course, as soon as any one from the
John Worthy sees him."
"How do you know it's Mikey ?"
"I've seen him. The murder was given me
to ' cover, ' because of my known familiarity
with the ward and conditions there. As soon
as I heard of this 'suspect' that had been taken,
I felt sure it was Mikey. He is sullen and won't
talk. It's an awful mix-up for me, Beth ! I
hate to go against you, to take the matter out
of your hands ; but can't you see ? Think of
the position you put me in !"
It was on the tip of Beth's tongue to say:
"Tell who he is, and write the whole story for
your paper." But something made her forbear.
"Wait!" she said, "and I'll come down during
the noon recess. Maybe I can get him to
"That is too late for our paper," he reminded
"I'm sorry, Hart," she answered curtly,
"but it is Mikey that I'm thinking of — not the
paper — and not you !"
"And you won't make it a bit easy for me ?"
Bitter indeed was the reply that rushed to
Beth's lips. But she checked it, unsaid, and
hung up the receiver.
At noon, Beth got on the Halsted Street car
and went down town. Mikey had been in the
Harrison Street Station all night, but was sent
over to the County Jail in the morning, after a
preliminary " sweating" in which he had refused
to give any account of himself, satisfactory or
It was visiting day at the jail, and in the room
where the waiting sit the gray gathering was a
numerous one. High and white and bare, that
room ; and round its sides a nearly continuous
wood bench broken only by the door from the
street and the opposite door into the jail. Fast-
locked, every moment except when some one
was passing through, that jail door ! And from
behind thick bars of steel in a cage in the upper
half of it, a jailer looks on all who come, and
listens to their pleas. The place never failed to
impress Beth deeply ; but to-day it appealed to
her with a new pitifulness. The waiting faces
were so gray — with poverty's pallor and with
apprehensiveness. The sad-colored livery of
poverty was so depressing. Elderly women —
making, perhaps, their first call upon a child in
JUST FOLKS 359
prison — wept silently but uncontrollably ; little
girls of eight and ten years, clothed in dun and
drab tones, carried baskets of food, copies of
cheap magazines, and other little comforts, every
one of which would have to be ruthlessly ex-
amined before it reached the prisoner for whom
it was intended. There were young women
there, too — maids and young wives and
mothers ; and here and there among them one
who carried the flaunting badge of vice. And
there were men — oldish men, for the most
part — and boys. But, as everywhere where the
sad and waiting sit, women were in the majority.
Beth asked to see the Jailer, and was ad-
mitted to his office.
"Well, well I" he greeted her jovially, "here
we are again !"
He was a big man, and he carried the look of
indisputable authority in every pound of his
weight, in every move he made ; carried it, too,
in every inflection of his voice. He was a man
of iron, and proud of it. And he never failed
to relish the contrast when wee Beth — fair-
haired and childish-looking — presented herself
alongside him as "another arm of the law."
"I tell you," he used to tease her, on the
occasions of her rather infrequent visits to the
jail, "when the two of us get in combination,
sinners had better look out ! "
Beth liked the Jailer; she respected him.
3 6o JUST FOLKS
And the Jailer liked Beth ; under all his raillery
was real respect for her. He pretended to think
she was a weak little sentimentalist; but he
knew she could do more with boys than any one
else who ever came into the jail. She pretended
to think his one delight in life was getting people
to lock up ; but she knew there was never any
one more glad than he when, with reasonable
regard for public safety, he could order the
great steel door swung open to let an imprisoned
wretch go free.
"Well," he chuckled, "what white woolly
lamb of your acquaintance have we got here
to-day — mistaking him for a black sheep ?"
Beth tried to answer back in kind, but she
was so troubled that the effort was a poor one.
"Why, Officer !" (he always called her "Offi-
cer" — it sounded so absurd), "you look un-
usually grave — "
"Do I ? Well, I have to ask you a big favor
— and I'm scared."
"What do you want me to do ? Turn my
back and not look while your lamb escapes ?
The guards 'd get him !"
"No — please!" Beth's tone was pleading,
and he saw that she was very serious. "You
have here a suspect in last night's Greek murder
in my ward."
"I don't know — have we ?"
"Yes; he was brought here this morning.
JUST FOLKS 361
He's quite young, I'm told — I think he may
be one of my boys. I want to talk with him
and I don't want to have to do it through those
awful double gratings. What I want to say to
him — to ask him — could never be said like
that. I want to sit down by him, and talk to
him very privately — if he's the boy I think he
is. I don't care if you lock us both in a cell,
and post a guard at the door to watch — but
let me get near that boy !"
No one knew better than Beth did how much
this was to ask. No one knew better than she
did, how easily the jail might be demoralized if
such breach of necessary discipline were often
made. Even with all the watchfulness that was
exercised, she knew how "flakes of coke" (co-
caine) were smuggled in in magazines, between
two pages lightly gummed together; how files
and saws could be concealed in bread and in
bananas, and escape the detection of any but
the most argus-eyed ; how even the double
grating of steel, small-meshed and with eighteen
inches of space between the screen behind which
the prisoner stood and the screen in front of
which his visitor was stationed, was not sufficient
to keep the ingenious from supplying liquor to
a prisoner — by means of a tiny tubing of
rubber, one end of which was in a bottle of
whiskey in the caller's pocket, and the other end,
temporarily stiffened for eighteen inches or so
362 JUST FOLKS
by a little willow switch, poked through the
steel meshes to reach thirsty lips. If, despite
steel screens and watchful guards, things like
this could be accomplished, it was not to be
expected that freer intercourse with a prisoner
could be lightly granted. In jail, as elsewhere,
those whose merits were above the average and
whose intentions were unquestionably good, had
to suffer the rigors of the law made for those
who were below the average in merit and had
intentions unquestionably bad.
But Beth got her desired opportunity. It
was dinner hour. The various squads of prison-
ers — divided off, as well as was possible, in
grades of depravity and long-continued vicious-
ness — were returned from the exercise pens to
their cells to be fed. The Jailer found out where
the Greek murder suspect was, and ordered that
if he had a cell-mate, he was to be transferred
temporarily to an unoccupied cell. When this
was done, he led the way and Beth followed him.
Mikey was sitting on the edge of his cot,
staring vacantly, unseeingly, at the wall, three
feet away. He turned an apathetic look on
Beth when she stopped, close to the cell door,
and spoke to him.
"Mikey!" she pleaded, "I want to come in
and talk with you — I want to help you. I am
so sorry — so terribly sorry, I didn't understand,
last night — that I let you go away, angry,
JUST FOLKS 363
when you needed me so. I hope you'll forgive
me, Mikey, and let me talk to you now. Will
For a moment, Mikey did not answer — did not
appear as if he even heard. Then, "Theer's
nuttin' t' talk about," he said sullenly.
"There's everything to talk about ! If you
could have seen your mother, Mikey — last
night, and this morning ! If you could know
as I know, what she's suffering, you'd see that
there is everything to talk about. Won't you
hear what I've got to say to you, even if you
have nothing to say to me ?"
Again, Mikey made no answer. But Beth saw
in his face the signs of softening. She nodded,
over her shoulder, to the Jailer, and he stepped
forward and unlocked the door, then locked it
after her when she had slipped inside.
Sitting on the cot beside Mikey, she began to
plead with him.
" I tell ye, I didn' kill no Greek," he kept saying
Beth pleaded all the advantages of confession.
She tried to go over, in detail, the conversations
with his mother, last night and this morning.
"I tell ye, I didn' kill no Greek," he reiterated.
Beth even told what the desk sergeant at
Maxwell Street had said about the Greek.
"And every one will feel the same way, Mikey,"
she said. " Especially when it's known how much
364 JUST FOLKS
you've had to stand, what a hard fight yours has
been, people will judge you gently, Mikey dear.
Just stand up and say you did it, and tell why.
If you don't, they'll try you — there'll be big
expense to the state — and in the end you won't
get as much sympathy, because of all the trouble
you have made."
"I tell ye, I didn' kill no Greek."
"And listen, Mikey ! I've been to see the
man you used to drive for — " Here Mikey
showed his first gleam of real awakening. "And
he says — I pleaded with him to take you back,
but he feels pretty sore about the strike, and he
refused — he says that if I can get you any other
job, to drive, and the new employers want to
buy a horse, he'll let them — have Ginger for
To Beth's intense surprise, Mikey began
"What is it, Mikey ?" she entreated. "What
He flung himself face downward on the cot,
and shook with sobbing.
Beth slipped to the floor and knelt beside him,
her face close to his. "Mikey!" she whispered,
entreatingly, "can't you tell me? Can't you
see how much I want to help you ?"
Slowly, as if every word were wrung from him
in agony, and muffled by the deep burial of his
face within the hollow of his outstretched arms
JUST FOLKS 365
Mikey answered, "I — hurt — the fella — that
was — drivin' — Ginger !"
"You hurt — " Beth began, repeating after
him uncomprehendingly. Then light broke upon
her. "When? Last night?"
"Just before you came to me ?"
"And you weren't near the Greek's, at all ?"
"Oh, Mikey! Why didn't you tell this
"I — couldn'. An' annyway, they wouldn'
listen t' me. They kep' askin' me t'ings I didn'
know nuttin' about."
"Where were you when you hurt the boy?"
"Down town — " Mikey sat up, now, and
started to talk more freely — much more freely,
indeed, than Beth had ever heard him talk.
It was as if, now that he had begun, his relief
was so great that he could hardly say enough —
only, the habit of years made speech difficult.
He was like a mariner, rescued after long isola-
tion from all human-kind ; full of desire to talk
and be understood, but almost without speech
to express himself.
"I was huntin' work all day," he went on,
"after Ang'la come home. I had t' have work,
an' I couldn' git none. When it was supper-time,
I wouldn' go home 'n' eat no more o' what Ma
366 JUST FOLKS
earned scrubbin'. 'Whin I git work, I'll go
home to 'em,' I says t' mesilf, 'an' not before.'"
Mikey's evident pride in this decision was so
great that Beth's heart ached as she thought
how little he understood his mother, how little
his mother understood him, and at what pitiful
cross purposes poor human natures play even
when each is trying to do what seems best and
most unselfish to him.
"About nine o'clock, I guess," Mikey went on,
"I was lookin' fer a place t' sleep, down by the
freight sheds, whin I — whin I seen — Ginger.
He — he seen me before I even seen him. An'
I was talkin' to him whin — the fella that drives
him, now, come out an' tol' me t' l'ave the
horse be. I — I dunno jest what happened,
but I know I hit 'im — in the nose — an' it bled
— an' he hollered — an' I run — t' you. I was
goin' t' till you — 'count o' havin' promised ye
I wouldn' strike no blow, whativer I done."
"And I was stupid, Mikey, and began to ask
you questions instead of waiting to hear what
you came to say. If you could know how bad I
feel about the way I acted ! I might have saved
so much suffering !"
But Mikey seemed to have no resentfulness ;
neither regret for what his mother had undergone,
nor distress over what had happened to him.
"They got me whin I was comin' back down
town," he said, "an' began t'rowin' it into me
JUST FOLKS 367
about some dago. I told 'em I didn' know, an'
I t'ought they'd soon fin' out I didn'. An'
whin they ast me about me han's an' coat — like
you done ! — I toP nuttin'. That man Gooch
that lives by your house, he's the right sort !
He says t' me, after that t'ing happened between
him an' Slosson, he says — whin I told him I'd
be glad if it was me got the chanst t' kick Slosson
clean t' Hell, he says, 'No !' he says, 'I'd be glad
if God A'mighty'd take him an' all his kin'
an' put thim wheer they belong,' he says, 'but I
don' want t' be the man that makes labor's
battle harder by drawin' blood,' he says. 'The
rights o' the workin' min,' he says, 'is the on'y
rights in this world that has been won widout
blood an' battle. Fightin' only sets us back,'
he says. He talked t' me pretty fine — that
man did ! That little kid o' his ought t' be a
good man, you bet ! An' I wasn' goin' t' l'ave
him — ner you — t'ink low o' me by knowin'
what I done. But I dunno — seemed like I run
t' you widout meanin' to. An' so — d'ye t'ink
he'll have t' know, too ?"
"Not if we can help it, he won't ! But if he
does know, I'm sure he'll understand — as I
do, Mikey. Now I must go. I hope we can
get you out of here so you can go home to-night.
And if we do, I want you to promise me one
thing; swear it on whatever is most sacred to
you — that you won't try to help your mother,
368 JUST FOLKS
another time, by staying away from home and
not telling her where you are ! "
"Now," finished Beth, when she had told all
this, rapidly, to the Jailer, "if only that murder
mystery unravels itself a bit, so Mikey can go
But Mikey was not as madly impatient
about being free as many persons in like circum-
stances might have been. And meantime, it
was a tremendous relief to Beth to have this
story of his, which she fully believed, however
far from believing it the police authorities might
Beth had not time to go over to Mary's on her
return from the Jail. She had no time for
luncheon, either, except for a banana and a bun,
eaten in an ante-room while she waited for her
cases to be called. But before she thought
of eating, she scrawled a note to lift the suspense
in Henry Street — trusting that Angela Ann or
some of the children might be there to read it.
"I have seen Mikey and he did not do it," the
note said. "Everything will soon be all right.
Don't worry. I'll be over after court." A boy in
Ewing Street, when Beth offered him a dime
to take this note to Henry Street, looked at her
as if he thought she were either drunk or
crazy, then pocketed the dime and sped away
JUST FOLKS 369
before she could have time to repent her reck-
Hart Ferris came into court before the session
was over. His face was beaming.
"Beth," he said — and there was contrition
in his look and in his tone — "you don't know
how glad I am — "
Beth looked mystified. She thought he had
heard about her interview with Mikey, and she
wondered how. "Have you seen Mikey?"
"Not since this morning. Have you ?"
"Why, yes ; I saw him at noon."
"At noon ? He didn't know then ?"
"Know what ?"
"Why, Beth! I thought you knew — "
"Thought I knew—?"
"Yes ; the man who killed the Greek is found."
"And has confessed."
"It was as the desk sergeant surmised, last
"Yes — learned it was through the Greek
his girl had gone into — into what Angela went
into — and so he, not knowing how to prosecute,
became his own avenger."
"And has told his story ?"
370 JUST FOLKS
" It will go easy with him ? " Beth's sympa-
thies had travelled, in a flash, to another home
whereon the gloom would settle as it lifted from
" But even at the easiest — ! " Beth shook her
head. Instead of Mary, in that outer room
where the gray waiting sit, there would be another
woman, white-faced and heavy-hearted. If only
there could ever be in this close-knit world a
pure joy, unmixed with any thought of some one
else's woe !
As soon as she could get away, they went
over to Henry Street. Mary was getting ready to
go down town to scrub — fixing a bit of supper for
the children to eat at six or seven or whenever
they felt most like it. Angela Ann stood idly
by, watching her mother half-interestedly. It
was going to be dull at home, for Angela Ann —
safe and kind, but very, very dull. Beth thought
of that, the moment she saw Angela standing
there ; back in her home, but not of it. No !
in no sense of it as the others were, even
Mikey. Beth wondered how long the girl would
"Don't go down town to-night, Mary," she
pleaded. "We must find some other way than
for you to scrub at night. I'm going over to the
corner to telephone and ask if Mikey will be
home to supper. If he comes, we must have a
JUST FOLKS 371
celebration. We ought to have had one last
night, for Angela ; but we were all so troubled
yesterday. To-night, if Mikey comes, we'll
have a grand jubilee for both returns. Angela,
will you come with me and help me ?"
On the way to the Avenue and back, Beth
noticed that the acquaintances of Angela they
met had a sceptical bearing. They were told
that Angela had been working as nurse-maid for
a lady who had taken her to the country. (This
was the story Mary had consistently told since
Angela's disappearance.) But not many, it was
evident, gave credence to the story.
"Lose yer job, Ang'la ?" shouted one youth
at her from a distance of a hundred feet or
more. Angela's effort at bravado was pitiful
to see; and the youth's wink and leer were
"Angela's got to be taken out of this neighbor-
hood, quick !" was Beth's mental calculation as
they hurried on their errand.
She got the Jailer on the 'phone. Mikey had
started for home some little time ago. So she
and Angela bought the feast, Angela's listlessness
dropping from her like a blanket.
Beth made the most possible of the occasion in
the way of excitement, knowing that excitement
was what Angela's poor little soul craved.
The crowning extravagance was a big water-
melon, "ice cold," which the grocer's boy carried
372 JUST FOLKS
home for them, creating a small sensation in
Henry Street where whole watermelons were of
When they got back to the house, Mikey was
there. Mary wanted Beth and Mr. Ferris to
stay to supper, but Beth said no. "It is a long,
long time since you all sat down to a meal to-
gether, and I think you'll be happier just by
yourselves," she said. "But I'll be over early
in the morning, Mary, for I've a world of things
to talk to you about. I wish you'd talk over some
of them among yourselves, this evening. One
thing I'm almost sure I can manage within a
very few days is to get Mikey a job — driving.
And I have hopes — you know, Mikey, what I
told you this morning ! Then we've got to think
how we can get Angela just the nicest job that
ever was, in some pleasant place where she
can work with lots of young folks and have real
good times. And Mary, I believe this is the
time for you to move. While Angela was away,
you wouldn't think of it, for fear she'd come
back and fail to find you. But now that you're
all together, I think you ought to get out of this
cellar and get a better place to live and for
Angela to ask her friends to. I know where we
can borrow money to pay for the moving and the
advance rent. Mikey can sign papers to pay it
back out of his wages, and the man that lends
it won't charge any interest. Now, you talk all
JUST FOLKS 373
these things over — and I'll see you in the
Mary went with them as far as the bottom of
the stairs leading to the sidewalk. "Ain't
it wonderful," she said, wiping the tears of happi-
ness and gratefulness from her eyes, "how t'ings
has worked out fer me an' mine ? An' d'ye min'
what I said las' night 'bout prayin' fer a sign I
didn't nade t' make Ang'la ashamed ? Ain't
it wonderful how the sacrifice was took off of
me an' laid on another ? You'll be goin' t' see
that man that done it — won'tye ? An' if theer's
annythin' in all the world I kin do t' help 'im
er his fam'ly, ye'll be sure to lit me do it — won't
ye, darlin' ?"
Beth promised, and Mary went back to spread
the feast of rejoicing.
Beth and Ferris dined in Hull House restaurant.
Up to the moment when, their order given, they
sat facing one another across the black oak
table, neither of them had said a word about last
Better than anything Ferris could possibly
have pleaded in his extenuation, was the un-
mistakable look he wore of one who has been
sore beset. Beth had noted it in a moment;
it spoke volumes to her, and stirred her swift
When their waitress had gone, Ferris looked
374 JUST FOLKS
across at Beth and tried to smile ; it was a wan
"This has been an awful day," he said.
Beth nodded briskly; she was always brisk
when she was fearful of her self-control.
"I was like Mary," he went on; "I kept
praying for a sign I needn't do it ; but the sign
didn't come — and I remembered what she
said. I could see me losing you forever, if I tpld
on Mikey — I had visions of Mikey hanged, and
Mary's heart broken, and you hating me. I
didn't know I was made of such stern stuff —
but the — the other thing wouldn't go ! I'm
not looking for sympathy — but I want you to
know it wasn't any easy thing for me to stand
against you — "
"I never supposed it was easy," said Beth,
gently, "but I couldn't understand why you felt
you must do it. I thought you ought to care
more about Mary and Mikey — and I thought
you ought to care more about me."
Ferris smiled tenderly. "I thought I ought
to, too," he said, "that was the strange part of
it ! But I suppose ' I could not love thee, dear, so
much, loved I not honor more.' "
"I know," said Beth. "You had to be true to
yourself — we all have to. I was hurt — but in
my 'deepest deepmost heart' I don't suppose
I ever thought of loving you less because you
couldn't see things just exactly as I do. I
JUST FOLKS 375
believe we see things alike almost as much as is
safe in a partnership — don't you ? If there's
never a bit of difference, two are no better than
one — are they ? And I — I think two are /"
After dinner was over, they walked, in the
summer dusk, up one teeming street and down
another — trying to decide where they would
most like to find a four-room flat.
For "reporters can't marry and live in an
apartment," as Ferris said, "but any working
man who likes the Nineteenth Ward can marry
and live in a flat."
"And we wouldn't take an apartment anywhere
else, if it was endowed — would we ? " asked Beth.
"What's the use of living away from where
all your friends live?" he answered happily.
Toward nine o'clock they went back to Max-
well Street. Hannah Wexsmith was sitting on
the door-step in the shadow of Monahan's side-
"Slosson," she told them quite triumphantly,
"is comin' home to-morrow." Home! To the
room where he had never cast anchor to the ex-
tent of so much as a "Sunday collar-button" !
And he would never pay the back rent, nor
ever be cured of "the failin'." But he had been
Hannah's burden and anxiety for eight long years,
and she had been lonesome without him, though
when he was there they seldom spoke.
376 JUST FOLKS
Joe Gooch was sitting in his "front" room,
minding his baby and reading Hannah's evening
paper. Mamie and Clarence were out. Beth
stopped at the open door to tell Joe what Mikey
had said about him that morning, and the way
Joe's face lighted with tender pride, was beautiful
"Thank ye fer tellin' me," he said. "I guess
mebbe you don't know jest how much I needed
The Slinskys' door was open, too — they were
more neighborly and less sensitive, of late —
and Dinah heard Beth's voice in the hall below
when she was talking to Joe Gooch. She was
waiting, when Beth reached the top of the stairs,
to speak to her.
"I had a lovely letter to-day from Mrs. Brent,"
said Dinah, "and she sent her best, best love to
you. She seems to be very happy, and she
says she hopes to be here some time this fall."
Liza and Adam Spear were on their respective
sides of the kitchen table ; Liza sewing, and Adam
reading the paper. Beth and Ferris told them
all the news.
Liza was particularly interested in the way
Mary Casey had been spared the bitterness of
publishing Angela's shame.
"Seems like God'd made up his mind that
woman had been tried about enough — don't
it ?" she remarked. "I s'pose some folks'd call
JUST FOLKS 377
it chance — all chance ! But when you live
real close t' people an' know lots about their
lives, the ways o' Providence, it seems t' me, is
"And the unbelieving people are the ones
who don't 'live close,'" said little Beth.
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~ - ,- *•- — * ""*
JUL 22 1868
SENT ON ILL
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SENT ON ILL
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U. C. BERKELEY
THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA UBRARY